Sandhurst Fine Foods was established in 1988 but traces its roots back to a family history originating in Italy, with Mimmo and Ray Lubrano’s grandparents. The company’s story is closely intertwined with the Lubrano family‘s values (in the picture), and today, it imports products not only from Italy but also from various countries worldwide. Additionally, it produces a portion of its private label offerings directly in Australia.
Italian food remains a fundamental pillar for the company. According to Mimmo Lubrano, Italian cuisine arrived in Australia with the first immigrants in the 1950s and has never gone out of style. Initially, basic products such as peeled tomatoes and olive oil were introduced, but now there is widespread knowledge and appreciation for products made in Italy.
SUPPORTING ITALIAN COMPANIES
Sandhurst Fine Foods has played a significant role in the development of well-known Italian brands in Australia, including the successful launch of the Mutti brand in 2007. Despite initial skepticism due to its perceived high cost, Mutti has achieved impressive revenues of 20 million euros through retail and foodservice channels, with the company holding full control. Mutti now operates its own office in Australia, similar to Lavazza and Bialetti.
Recently, the company has introduced the brand Jimmy Tartufi representing a new venture for Sandhurst Fine Foods. The Australian market’s knowledge of truffles is still limited, similar to the situation with pesto thirty years ago. However, the company is confident in its ability to replicate the success it had with pesto by importing and producing truffle products under its own brand to cater to various needs and markets.
Sandhurst Fine Foods is continuously on the lookout for new brands to bring to the Australian shelves. The company’s objective is to collaborate with strong and well-established brands in the Italian market that have invested in marketing and promotion. Over the years, their achievements have allowed them to develop significant brands, as they did with Mutti. The company’s annual revenue amounts to approximately 60 million euros, and it operates four warehouses that enable nationwide distribution. It serves the four major retail chains in the country – Woolworths, Aldi, Costco, and Coles – and 60% of its revenue comes from the foodservice sector, served through a network of around 500 wholesalers.
LOOKING FOR NEW ITALIAN PARTNERS
According to Lubrano, the Australian consumer is not merely seeking cheap products but rather values superior quality, attention to health and the environment. This consumer preference drives the company’s search for new partnerships.
The extensive brand product catalog is continuously expanding, with the inclusion of premium cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano and a range of catering semi-finished products from Surgital. The company is also planning to introduce prosciutto, the only cured meat currently allowed to be imported into Australia.
However, sweet products are not part of their offering, as they are not highly appreciated in Australia due to the prevalent trend of sugar reduction.
The Australian market for pasta is also challenging, with local historical brands like San Remo holding a 70% market share. Nonetheless, high-quality pasta brands such as La Molisana and Rummo are performing well.
Furthermore, Sandhurst Fine Foods offers a vast array of private label products, many of which are produced in Italy. These range from 100% Sicilian olives (Nocellara), antipasti, and vegetables to legumes, olive oil, and vinegar (with a collaboration with De Nigris ongoing). Naturally, the company’s flagship products include all tomato derivatives. Other offerings include rice from the Vercelli region, potato gnocchi, legumes, and more.