Barilla wants to expand its market in Belgium: “We want to make Harry a brand as strong as Barilla”

Result : “In less than 10 years, Barilla became number 1 in pasta in Belgium. shows Miloud Benaouda. “Barilla is the leader with a 16% market share according to Nielsen, ahead of Soubry which is around 12%, explains Frédéric Bodereau. Over the past ten years, we have invested 30 million euros in marketing the Barilla brand.”

“Number 2 in sauces at the end of 2023”

The Barilla group is not only counting on pasta to develop in Belgium. But also on sauces. “In seven years, our market share has increased from less than 3% to almost 11%, and we have been the leader in the pesto segment for several months with strong growth over the past 5 years.the Benelux director rejoices. Belgians are the second largest consumers of pesto per capita in the world after the Italians. At the end of 2023, we became number 2 in sauces by value, behind Miracoli (Mars group, editor’s note), the historic number one in the market, and neck and neck with the Belgian brand Manna. Our goal is to achieve a leadership position in sauces and we have the products and marketing resources to achieve this.”

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Sandwich, a Belgian specialty

A third sector of activity: prepackaged bread through French brand Harrys, in which Barilla acquired a 51% stake in 2003 before buying the rest in 2009. “At the beginning of 2010 we were a smaller player, we are currently number 2 in the packaged bread market behind La Lorraine.” “Barilla is a strong brand, we want to make Harry a brand as strong as Barilla in Belgium”insists President Barilla for Western Europe.

The group even launched a product specifically for Belgium in 2017, a plain sandwich, and followed up with a butter sandwich two months ago. “Because butter sandwiches are the mainstay of the bread market in Belgium”emphasizes Miloud Benaouda.

Based on its success in Belgium, the sandwich has just been launched in France. “Mostly it’s the exact opposite…”

Finally, Barilla in Belgium is also Wasa, a Swedish brand bought in 1999.

“Three Crises in 3 Years”

Broadly speaking, how has a group like Barilla weathered rising commodity prices and inflation? “We have experienced 3 crises in 3 years: Covid, the climate crisis in the summer of 2021 in North America, which increased the price of durum wheat, which rose from 220 euros per ton in March 2021 to 550 in September; Ukraine We had to ensure continuity of production, pass on three-quarters of the increase in inflation to the distributors by absorbing a quarter ourselves, and check the price to the distributors who penalize you if you go too far. replies Miloud Benaouda. It is better from summer 2023, but the price of cereals still remains 30% higher than 3 years ago.”

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In Belgium we had to take that into account as well “Belgians turned to other markets and shopped across the border and the distribution sector experienced turbulence (Metro supermarkets closing, Delhaize strikes, Mestdagh takeover by Intermarché…). But the pasta category resists in the context of limited purchasing power because it is an affordable product, Miloud Benaouda summarizes. All this affected volumes in 2023, but turnover continues to grow (+7%), driven by the impact of inflation and the development of sauces.” And finally: “Today we feel that we are getting out of the crisis and we are confident about what we can further develop in Belgium.”

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