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Admired Ammirato di Bologna

Posted: Wednesday, 22 September 2010 15:11

Admired Ammirato di Bologna

A wide spectrum of Ammirato wines, olive oils, pastas and other Italian food products, is  set to win the hearts and palates of Indians and Sri Lankans who love quality Italian cuisine, and to promote the range to prospective clients, Dott. Claudio Ammirato was in Delhi recently. Subhash Arora chatted with him on his objectives, philosophy and vision about the project. 

Bologna based Ammirato boss was in Delhi after visiting Bangalore where Ammirato Foods Pvt Ltd, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Italian parent company Ammirato SRL is located. It is being managed by Chris Pohl, a South African professional with a decade of experience in food and wine market in India

So he was the admired (Ammirato translated) Bolognaise, I wondered, as I met Claudio Ammirato.  ‘Actually, I was born in Germany to Italian parents, where I spent first 6 years before moving to south of Italy-mostly in the countryside near Brindisi which is one of the five provinces (Brindisi, Lecce, Bari, Foggia, Taranto) of Puglia Region (akin to a State in India)-Torre Guaceto Nature Park, to be precise.

Falling in love with wine

‘My family had a farm producing wine and olive oil. I have been travelling a lot since the age of seven.’ Only six years ago, he moved to Bologna. Claudio has an interesting educational background- he studied to become a chemical engineer (Perito Chimico) specialising in chemical analyses. He also went to the Navy Academy and even did a 2-year stint at the Accademia di Polizia . He studied in the Universitá di Siena where he obtained his Masters degree in Political Science.

To India via London

It is interesting to listen to him to know how a young man of 28 who went to study for an MBA in London decided to aim his business guns on India instead. ‘During my MBA pre-course I had to write an economic paper about India. By the time I finished the research, I was in love with India and knew whichever business I did, had to involve India. I started doing further  extensive research about the Indian market and set up my own company putting aside my MBA for the next few years.’ he says with a look of determination.

That was four years ago. Deciding on the product wasn’t difficult. ‘Since I come from a family of wine makers I decided to continue what I had left years ago, but on a different scale. India is a new and emerging market and I wanted to bring Italian culture to India and what is better than food and wine? And thus was born Ammirato.’

The incredible but tricky India

Doesn’t he think it is a tricky business with incredible level of bureaucracy here? He smiles, ‘I agree and that is why I immersed myself into direct research to get a good handle. I have come to India over 15 times during the last 3 years, spending about a third of my time here. I know there is too much bureaucracy. I know the rules are complicated in each State. But I studied the market and its peculiarities very carefully. We are not here for short term but for ever and no matter what the difficulties maybe, I am determined to make the project succeed.

Sri Lanka on the wings

While even the company formation may be a daunting detour for most foreign businessmen, Ammirato has been able to make things happen in India. At the same time he has set up a partnership in Sri Lanka where he feels it is easier to do business. ‘The timing is also correct. Now is the right to enter the market there.’

‘This is also why we chose Bangalore as our base so that we may ship out our products to Colombo, Mumbai, Delhi, and even Maldives or any other markets we might open up in future,’ he says. ‘In fact, you may be surprised to know that one 20 foot-container of Ammirato wine and olive oil we have imported is earmarked for sale in Sri Lanka only.’

Ammirato-an interesting concept

So what does Ammirato stand for? ‘It is a quality brand under whose umbrella we are bringing wines from different wine regions of Italy. In the first phase we are bringing eleven wines including Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Pinot Grigio, Valpolicella Classico, Merlot, Prosecco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rose, Chianti and their variants as also a Grappa. Similarly, we are also bringing two types of quality olive oils-extra virgin and olive pomace which is excellent for deep frying and will be a healthy alternative for Indian cooking.’

How to ensure quality

How can he ensure quality of these diverse products? ‘Our philosophy is to buy the best product and bring it to the Indian consumer at affordable price. We are not looking for cheap quality at cheap prices-anyone can do that. We have been scouting around for good wineries and selecting products using a panel of experts who travel throughout Italy. It is a long process and we have 5-6 experts working with us on this selection. It is not my choice but the advice of these experts that helps us with the decision.’

Dottore Ammirato is clear that the quality must be very good. ‘I have put my family name and my face on the products. We have to stand fully behind these products.’ Talking about the family, Claudio clarifies that a significant investment has gone into this project which has been financed by his family. Besides, his brother looks after the product sourcing in Italy. He also emphasizes that Ammirato will represent fine products sourced pan Italy and not necessarily from specific regions. 

When does the company plan to bring the products to the market? ‘We have already received some of them. There has been some delay because of the complex procedures but our distribution system is in place and we will be in the market within a few weeks-if not days,’ he says with confidence.
‘Two 40 foot containers containing pasta, polenta, vinegar, aceto balsamico (well-known Balsamic vinegar from Modena) and Crema di aceto balsamico di Modena, are already in transit. Two similar containers with 34,680 bottles (about 2,900 cases) are presently undergoing bonding in Bangalore. Registration procedure is already complete in Bangalore and Delhi.’

This does seem to be a lot of variety and quantity, doesn’t he think? ‘Well, we are new entrants and must do things differently to gain a foothold. We decided nine months ago about the products we wanted today. During this trip, we have also been planning for our plans 9 months from now,’ he discloses.

What difficulties has he faced reaching thus far? ‘The biggest problem has been coming to grips with the laws which are different in each state. It was really tough to get the right information- there has been a lack of it.’ Not an earth shaking revelation for us that!

Private Labeling

Dott. Ammirato has an interesting, unique concept for his team- to do private labeling in India, especially for restaurants, provided a minimum quantity is ordered. In fact, he confides to me that an order for 1500 liters of two wines- Pinot Bianco and Merlot has already been finalised with a restaurant in Bangalore though he is not willing to disclose the identity for strategic reasons.

Promoting Ammirato

Besides using a qualified sommelier to train for various customers regularly supplemented by the frequent visits of winemakers, Ammirato is planning several activities for the brand promotion to give the ‘Taste of Italy’ to the lovers of good food and wine.

For one, the company is participating in the Upper Crust Future being held for the first time in Bangalore from 24-26 September, where they will present olive oils and wines.

‘It is very encouraging that a two-week olive oil promotion at Hotel Lalit in Bangalore has been so successful that the initial promo period of food preparation with Ammirato olive oils has been extended for another week. Every bottle of olive oil (to be sold in sizes of 10mL pouches to 5 liter-cans) will have a booklet which will help the customer choose the oil.

Subhash Arora
The Ammirato project may look ambitious but it is admirable on the part of the young Dottore Claudio Ammirato to have full faith in India where the rewards can be high in the medium to long term, no matter howsoever difficult the journey in the short term.

To know more about him and his project, visit or write to him at

Subhash Arora



Avininder Singh Says:

As usual a brilliantly incisive article which gets to the heart of every matter without being tedious. Subhash ji you have really fine tuned your art of interviewing because the reader who wants information will hang on to each word. Kudos, again!!

Posted @ September 25, 2010 13:50


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