“Fire? No way. This year the demand has increased. So, to produce more, I had to hire another 10 employees. I’m 52 now. And I wouldn’t touch them for the world. Rather, I act on the product. I suspended the production of trays and raised the price on the entire range ». Who speaks is Spiridione Strafinoadministrator of Royalthe factory of ice creams based in Monteroni di Lecce, born in the form of a laboratory in the late 1960s in Veglie when the Italian Chocolate and Related Society (SICA) withdrew from the production of industrial ice cream and sold the machinery to his father (Pasquale). There energy crisis it is also forcing this consolidated reality to review the accounts. “Costs have quadrupled. In January 2020 we paid 0.16 cents for a kWh. In August 2022 0.60, while in July 0.50: in one month the cost increased by 20 percent. Our production period runs from February to mid-September: we consume 2 million kWh. Therefore, if in 2020 we paid an average of 320 thousand euros, taking as reference the energy price of July 2022, our bill it has reached 1 million and 80 thousand euros ”, explains the entrepreneur.
The strategy to survive
A merciless picture in front of which the only thing that the administrator of a company can do, if he does not want to close, is to optimize costs. Yes, but in what way, given that the reduction in personnel is not conceivable also due to the increase in demand? “For the moment – says Strafino – we are optimizing production, leaving that of single-portion ice cream unchanged and setting aside that of the more energy-intensive products”. From this derives the decision to suspend the production tubs of ice cream: «To produce them it takes more energy because you have to process more matter and therefore it takes more hours of work. In our sector, the tub is considered the “flirtatious” product », that is, it is sold at a very low price to attract as many customers as possible. “But it is no longer convenient, because producing it no longer implies any operating margin”.
Royal’s customers are mainly supermarkets. The company produces 80% of its retail branded items: from Italy Discount to Maxi Dì, passing through Dico and MD. And the effect of inflation spills over the entire supply chain. In fact, with the cost of energy, that of raw materials also increased, to which the phenomenon of speculation certainly did not make a positive contribution: «Milk and sugar underwent yet another increase in June. On Friday – reveals Strafino – I received an email from the biscuit producers (therefore, flour, oil, etc.) who will increase my prices by 29 percent from 1 October ».
How do you manage, by suspending the production of a single product, to operate in this situation without going at a loss? “Indeed, we are paying taxes in the form of price increases. I am curious to understand at the end of the year how many companies will close in profit. By force of circumstances, we too are raising prices », admits the entrepreneur. But the return is not automatic: «Right now I am preparing an email to communicate yet another price list adjustment: unusual thing, because in our sector the list is made in February and is not touched for a year. This year I have already done three and not all have accepted the increase. We trust in common sense ». But not in the choices made from above or in the aid of the state.
The answers received so far from the government institutions are considered unsatisfactory: «I restrain myself so as not to verbally exceed. I’m just saying that we have been asking for less bureaucracy and more efficiency for fifty years. We make fun of ourselves. But I’m over 50, I hardly fall for it. We rely exclusively on our strengths and ideas: we are building a photovoltaic system and soon we will have an energy production system with large diesel generators: so – Strafino predicts – we aim to return excise duties and save 40% on the current cost. of energy “.
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Salento, bill of over one million euros: the ice cream factory suspends production
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