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Common threads & evolving businesses: a look at Fattoria Montelupo and Brocatelli

Common threads & evolving businesses: a look at Fattoria Montelupo and Brocatelli

Questo articolo è il risultato della collaborazione tra SapereFood e Umbra Institute, filiale italiana di alcuni college e università statunitensi con sede a Perugia. Dopo un approfondimento sul settore agroalimentare e sullle tecniche di scrittura giornalistica, gli studenti di Umbra Institute hanno visitato alcune importanti aziende della regione, raccontando la loro esperienza sul campo e contribuendo a diffondere la qualità alimentare dell’Umbria all’estero.

by Sara Balte

Located amidst several Umbrian hills, Fattoria Montelupo, a buffalo mozzarella cheese factory run by Gianluca Paolo, is the only one of its kind in the region. Originally a product of Campania, Gianluca decided to bring this tradition to northern Umbria in 2001. Setting foot on the grounds allows any visitor to understand why Gianluca chose this landscape to retreat to. How, I wondered, did someone manage to find a habitat so lush, clean, and free of toxins in which to raise healthy cattle? The rural setting provides the animals an abundance of space in which to roam. At one point during a tour of the grounds, my classmates and I watched as some of the staff members let the cattle gallivant along a hillside to enjoy the green grass and bask in the sunshine. All of us witnessed the prominent joy that radiated off of the herd as they reveled in their moments of freedom. Two hours later, however, I realized that not all cheese factories occupy a similar environment.

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Another cheese factory located just 5 kilometers outside of the heart of Assisi, Caseificio Broccatelli occupies a small urban structure along Via Los Angeles. In contrast to Fattoria Montelupo’s expansive landscape, Broccatelli’s infrastructure does not tolerate the ownership and subsequent on-site care for its cattle. It does, however, permit customers to walk through its doors and purchase their products over the counter, giving Broccatelli a much stronger commercial feel than Fattoria Montelupo. After beginning work in cheese factories at the age of 14, a former WWII veteran purchased the land and returned to Assisi in 1956 to establish this site. How long the factory has been around and its evolution over time, along with its location, leaves me curious as to how Fattoria Montelupo will change over time. Will it become more commercial like Brocatelli? Or does Gianluca intend on sustaining the present conditions of his factory? Only time will tell for certain, but it is an interesting proposition to think about how the combination of time and environment can manipulate and mold the various ways in which a business can transform.

The contrasting environments of these two factories play a huge role in their respective commercial-feels. Brocatelli’s location in the city of Assisi permits customers to purchase their desired cheeses directly over the counter, whereas consumers do not travel to Fattoria Montelupo to purchase the buffalo mozzarella. Thus, there seems to be a correlation between geographical location and the commercial-feel of businesses. Regardless, Gianluca remains resistant to selling his product in stores because he does not want to compete with industrial products that have different ideologies. Instead, he sells at various local farmers markets. Will this ideology remain stable, or over time will Gianluca feel more confident in his craft and thus transition into a commercial setting? The combinations of these factors make it interesting when thinking about the many directions in which Fattoria Montelupo could choose to take in the future.

Despite their contrasting localities, both companies pride themselves on continuing tradition. In addition to their utilization of traditional cheese-producing methods, Brocatelli and Fattoria Montelupo yield products that have been in the family for generations. In this way, even though both located in different developmental spaces, Brocatelli and Fattoria Montelupo share strongly similar ideals regarding what is valued in the cheese-making process heritage.

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