Tuesday, July 1, 2008

RNSI Adventures - San Patrignano Day Two

It is quite an experience in so many ways here at San Patrignano, which is a virtual gastronomic overload. In many ways this is one of the most impressive social enterprise in the world, as far as I can tell. Where else can you spend between 3.5-5 years in recovery from drugs? The Italians are smart; they combine the best in all the worldly arts - cheese, wine, and smoked meats - and help 1000 people in their community build skills and craftsmanship that can take them places in the outside world. It is really a small city complete with hospital, kitchens that feed hundreds, horses, kennels with breeding facilities , artisan pigs (which become high end prosciutto and other hams) and a dairy. Perhaps it was just that they were on their best behavior with so much company visiting, but San Patrignano runs like a well oiled machine. The people are what make the place. Although they are struggling, they are compassionate, tender, and always ready for a joke.

Our booth in the Good Food Pavilion was right inside the front door, and we had thousands (some say 40,000 total over 4 days) and it was great to test market the marshmallows and Cocoaberries.
The reactions were wonderful, although the Italians don’t eat marshmallow (an American phenomenon) and it was hilarious to watch them try one. Of course, the children all loved them and said that they saw them on “Charlie Brown”. The parents were skeptical, even when touching them, most were shocked that they were soft (morbido in Italian). I don’t think they will be a big hit in the Italian market, but who knows, it just might be strange enough. The Cocoaberries were a hit, but not when we told people that they were low calorie (“light” as they say in Italian). Most people said diet foods are for Americans and were a bit superior sounding if you ask me. Many, many people wanted to buy the products – mostly the marshmallows, but definitely a strong demand given that most were on vacation and ready to spend.

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