Italy’s Barilla family, best known for its dry pasta products and sauces, thinks Americans don’t eat enough pasta.
It will try to convince Americans to load up on its spaghetti, penne and ziti, among others, by opening a new chain of Barilla-branded restaurants in the US next year.
As Europe’s economic crisis deepens, the 135-year-old food company is looking for growth in other markets such as the US.
“Most Americans eat pasta, but not often,” chairman and fourth-gen Guido Barilla told the Wall Street Journal. “There is definitely potential for expansion in the US.”
According to the Italian Association of Pasta Industries, Americans ate an average of 19.4 pounds of pasta per person in 2011. This certainly compares poorly with Italians, who consumed 57.3 pounds each, or even with the Venezuelans’ 28.7 pounds per head.
Sales of Barilla’s products in the US last year accounted for just €365 million of the company’s total revenues of €3.9 billion. US revenues were mainly from grocery store sales of dry pasta.
The company launched a line of microwaveable meals in the US this year and has reportedly sold four billion of these single-serving products. But it is too early to gauge the line’s success, Barilla told the Wall Street Journal.
Opening restaurants would increase Barilla’s brand recognition in the US. The company plans to open a pilot eatery there by the end of 2013.
When contacted by CampdenFB a spokesman at Barilla declined to give further details of the US expansion plans, saying there were no further developments at this stage.