Sagra olive oil now speaks Chinese

This ancient brand owned by the Fontana family is now in the hands of the Chinese company Shanghai Yimin Foods. The Salov entrepreneurs, headquartered in Lucca, are still present, but only as minority shareholders.

Luigi Caricato

Sagra olive oil now speaks Chinese

It had been in the air for months. Only the formal agreement was missing. And now, after roughly one year of negotiations, everything has been settled. A subsidiary of the Bright Food group, namely the Chinese company Shanghai Yimin Foods, will acquire the majority of the shares of the famous Tuscan oil group Salov. In the hands of the new owners is not only the famous Sagra brand, which is very popular throughout Italy, but also another historical trademark, Filippo Berio.

Salov was established in 1919 by a group of producers and retailers from Lucca who decided to join together to establish a bigger, stronger and more competitive company that could have its say not only at a national level, but also on the international market.

Among the founders were the heirs of Filippo Berio and Dino Fontana; indeed, the Fontana family still run the company, the fourth generation in particular. Filippo Berio and Sagra are the two top brands that Salov is famous for. They have however other projects too, and worthy of note is their Fattoria La Traversagna, one of the biggest and more modern olive orchards in Italy, which lies at the foot of the hills between Lucca and Pisa.

The Italian shareholders will still play a role, though doubtlessly more limited. Salov is a prosperous company, and as well as with the Sagra and Filippo Berio brands, it is also present on the market with a range of other vegetable oils extracted from seeds.

According to the first statements, the Italian identity of Salov is not at risk. The company should remain faithful to the style and tradition for which it is famous. The Fontanas will still be in the Board of Directors, and will doubtlessly contribute to this new stage, the aim of with is to further increase the sales of two brands that already hold a prominent position on the market.

Yimin belongs to Bright Food, which in turn is wholly owned by the Chinese state. Bright Food is a real industrial giant, with an estimated turnover of 17 billion dollars; it has recently been very active on the market, acquiring the British company Weetabix, the Israeli firm Tnuva and Australian-based Manassan Food. The Bright Food trademark was created by Shanghai Yimin Foods Co. after the Communist Party seized power in 1949. The Bright Food group was founded in 2006, when Shanghai Yimin merged with other three state-owned companies.

With the Chinese acquisition of Salov and its two famous brands, Italy continues to steadily lose ground on the olive oil market. After Spanish-based Deoleo acquired Bertolli, Carapelli and Sasso, it is now the turn of two other brands to end up in foreign hands.

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