Sacla’ is an award-winning, artisan food company founded by Secondo and his wife Piera in north-west Italy in 1939. Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura caught up with Claire Blampied for a truly, madly, deeply Italian conversation.
Luxurious Magazine: We’re all quite familiar with Sacla’ products, but please tell us briefly about this family-run business.
Clare Blampied: Piera and Secondo Ercole started bottling and preserving the local and seasonal vegetables growing abundantly in Piemonte way back in 1939. It was a clever and entrepreneurial way to ensure they captured Mother Nature’s bounty to sell all year round. Today the business is run by their second son and his daughter, using some recipes handed down through the generations.
A lot has changed over the last 80 years, and Sacla’ products are sold in 60 countries around the world. We’re very proud of the fact that Sacla’ UK was the first subsidiary and continues to be the most important export market for the Italian business.
LM: Is it true that the products are still made in Italy?
CB: Yes, indeed. Everything we sell is made in Italy using Italian ingredients grown in season wherever possible – and using those all-important family recipes, of course. Our inherent Italian authenticity has been key to our success.
LM: You’ve been working with the brand since the 1980s. How did you first come to work with Sacla’?
CB: At the end of the ’80s, with the Football World Cup in Italy imminent, we were in love with all things Italian – fashion, cars, opera and, of course, food. I was lucky enough to meet the Sacla’ family who was keen to launch their products here in the UK, and we hatched a plan focussed on creating a demand for one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. We were the original Pesto Pioneers!
LM: Italian cuisine is incredibly popular in the UK today, but it wasn’t always like that was it? What kind of challenges did you face?
CB: When we first launched Pesto here, there were no big pasta sauce aisles in the supermarkets as there are today. Olive oil was sold in chemists to put in your ears, and the pasta dishes we ate in restaurants were drowned in copious amounts of runny tomato sauce which sank to the bottom of the bowl.
It was quite a challenge to persuade people that this concentrated green sauce which you stirred through pasta was a more authentic and delicious way to create that irresistible taste of Italy. We also launched with a Tomato Pesto and a Creamy Pesto, neither being quite so traditional, but definitely having more appeal for the Italophiles in the UK!
LM: How difficult was it to convince the British to cook Italian food at home?
CB: Pesto took off very quickly, thanks to tremendous support from the supermarkets who were brave enough to put us on their shelves, and the numerous food journalists who wrote about Pesto and helped us to create a demand for it. So actually, people embraced our products more quickly and wholeheartedly than we could have ever anticipated.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been quite so surprised – Italian food, and Pesto pasta, in particular, is deliciously quick and simple to prepare, wonderful to eat and stirs all the emotions of the wonderful country from which it comes.
LM: You have a new online shop, what can visitors to it expect?
CB: The love affair we have with all things Italian continues today. And there’s still so much more to discover and share! Last year, we put together a Truly Madly Deeply Italian collection of regional specialities, sourced from like-minded artisanal suppliers located across the length and breadth of Italy.
They are all now easily available from our website so that people can buy these special products and have them delivered straight to their homes to share with friends as give as gifts – or just for enjoying themselves!
World events mean this online offering has been especially important and valuable, and we are looking forward to launching our winter and Christmas ranges. Look out for fresh white truffles and a super indulgent gold panettone!
LM: Sustainability is important to many people in today’s climate. What is Saclà’s approach to this?
CB: Sacla’ has a strong sense of responsibility. We treasure our past, but our focus is firmly on the future. Our promise is that we will help to transform the food lives of future generations. We have plans in place to help to look after our planet and all the people we work with.
We’ve sown the seeds for the future focusing on a small number of initiatives so that we can make a real difference in our own Truly Madly Deeply Italian way.
LM: Which is your favourite Sacla’ Pesto?
CB: My favourite Pesto? Ha! There are 16 recipes to choose from now, so it’s hard to pick just one. If you push me, I’d say Chargrilled Aubergine!
Sacla’ – Where and How?
To experience what it’s like to be ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply Italian’ and to browse recipes and view their current range of gifts and products from twenty regions, visit www.sacla.co.uk.
Read more exclusive interviews in our dedicated section here.