They only believe in using tomatoes when they are in season. They monitor the growing season and harvest almost every second. So you’re never going to get tiny, flavorless tomatoes your diners will know came from a can. If you’re looking for the freshest tomato paste and tomato products out there, Mutti is the one for you.
Established in Northern Italy in the middle of the Food Valley of Italy, near the city of Parma (where Parmigiano Reggiano and prosciutto come from), Mutti, a third-generation company, was founded in 1899 and launched its products in the U.S. in 2012.
“The excellence of Italian food products comes from that region,” said Steve Malin, foodservice director for business development. “In the early ‘50s, Mutti created a product that is now very well-known, tomato paste in the squeezable tube. And then later on, in the ‘70s, or early ‘80s, the family thought about expanding, which led to a wide range of products that includes everything from whole peeled tomatoes, to crushed, to our passata, which is tomato puree. We also have the pulp, our polpa, which is finely chopped tomatoes with the very freshest of tomato taste.”
President of Monini North America, Marco Petrini is quick to point out that no other company can make these products, with their quality and taste profile. “That’s a process which is exclusive to us. We basically skin and crush the tomatoes without applying any excessive heat or additional stress to the product, therefore avoiding change in the taste profile or the color of the product. The tomatoes basically stay as fresh as possible, and are canned as fresh as possible on an industrial scale.”
Though Mutti’s products originally started out as retail, they’ve moved into foodservice. “It’s different here than in Italy. Obviously, here, there’s a much higher degree of people eating out at restaurants, or taking out finished product at restaurants,” Malin asserted. “That’s another major difference between the US and Italy. In Italy, we only buy fresh tomatoes in whatever market we go to, whether it’s a small local market or supermarket, or a big cash and carry. We only find tomatoes in the summertime. We don’t buy fresh tomatoes in Italy during the year except when they are in season,” he explained.
And the company has been doing something right. It holds a 50% market share in tomato paste and is the brand market leader in Italian tomatoes. “Consumers will look for high-quality canned tomatoes for everyday cooking when they cannot obviously find fresh tomatoes in the store,” Malin noted.
Mutti came to the U.S. because there are not a lot of quality Italian imported brands out there. “Of course, you have California. But not many Italian brands really made it in this market, actually even tried to enter this market. So Mutti saw a big opportunity there,” added Malin. “The chef has to be able to understand the flavor profile is the message, and he must be able to go to the distributors for high end quality Mutti tomatoes to make his own custom sauce, which is their own signature identity dish.”
“The taste buds of Americans seem to be getting more sophisticated,” Malin said. “That plays to us. The issue is how to address this need by the American consumer because it’s clearly out there. There’s not a lot of innovation in this market. They’ve been using the same products for years so a new approach, a new option that will allow them to do more with the real quality Italian tomato, is going to be very enticing.”
Mutti was one of the first to be non-GMO with its tomato seeds. “And we monitor the freshness of the fruit with the farmer every minute,” stated Malin. “They actually pick the fruit a little closer to the ripeness of the tomato. It gives us a very small window to process it so we have to be on it every second. Then there’s a test for when it’s time to pick the tomatoes. And then when it’s picked, and brought to the plant, another separate test is made for the company by certified agents to verify that it meets the highest standards. Then it comes into the plant.”
“You don’t get any more fresh than that,” concluded Malin.
To order from Mutti Parma and for more information, visit their website or call (203) 513-2763.