Catering artisan salumi for increasingly health oriented consumers

With a main webpage featuring an exuberant meat display that brings to mind the vivid food paintings by 16th-century Renaissance painter Vincenzo Campi, hyperrealist Luigi Benedicenti, or Sicilian painter Renato Guttuso  (or even a palatial scene from Gabriel Axel’s drama/romance movie Babette’s Feast, 1987) “Puopolo Artisan Salumi” offers meats that are a veritable feast to the eye. Focusing on ‘gourmet handcrafted salami and air-dried cured meats’, this individual producer – like the other two, cheese and arancini-producing, companies also marketed and promoted by Food Art Distribution  ̶  has been around since 1978. It has since emerged as a new business unit under the same company name honouring family traditions and caters for ‘Melbourne’s best restaurants and delicatessens’.

A family-owned company that produces and distributes Australia-wide, “Puopolo Smallgoods” is the brainchild of Vitangelo who in the 1960s emigrated to Australia and with that ‘brought with him centuries-old recipes, unique to southern Italy and the art of traditional food making’. In 1978, Nick Puopolo founded Puopolo Smallgoods located in Geelong, with his brother Chris later joining the business. Back then it was only a small retail butcher shop selling fresh meat and hand-made smallgoods made by the brothers. They worked tirelessly to create a successful business by focusing on smallgoods for the Victoria’s foodservice industry. After Nick’s premature retirement, it was his sons, Vito and Michael, that have taken the reins of Puopolo Smallgoods. They both share the same passion for creating traditional Italian smallgoods using time-honoured recipes and artisan methods, the way they were created centuries ago. Because of this, they have expanded their business with their Puopolo Artisan Salumi label, which produces artisanal salami, dry cured meats, and cooked products like Mortadella and Prosciutto cotto.

In a huge market of $4 billion that has been consistently growing for the last five years it is likely to see this positive trend continue for the next five. The new business arm Puopolo Artisan Salumi is making a significant impact on the Victorian segment of gourmet food retailers and high-end restaurants.

The new company directors Vito and Michael Puopolo proudly emphasise that they not only support the local economy thanks to a strict purchase policy that gives exclusive priority to Australian farmers and producers, but work in such a fashion that they help increase the demand for traditional and artisan-made Italian products. As a key point within their marketing strategy there is this idea to provide training to retailers educating them about the difference between industrial and handmade products. Giving the right information, producing healthy and high-quality products, teaching people about the differences in ingredients selection and natural aging methods compared to heat-treated products is a real help for setting good standards within the Australian market and shaping positively the culinary habits of the Australians.

Michael and Vito believe the Australian government, in turn, could do more to rely less on imported products and goods: ‘We believe that the Australian government should support the local manufacturing industry more. We can import know-how, technology and machinery, but importing a ready-to-be-sold product made overseas with pork imported there from here does not help reduce our impact on the environment’ hence why ‘producing locally is better for the economy, for the earth and for future generations’. To further demonstrate their commitment to producing locally, their Artisan Salumi range have a minimum of 98% Australian ingredients declared on their packaging.

Local production, add the owners, has raised quality levels by knowing exactly where raw materials come from such as pork and beef which are all primarily sourced from Victoria and processed in house. Therefore, the quality of products made are on par, if not better than few products that are imported. Importantly and by way of explanation, ‘In the smallgoods industry, import is very strict and limited. This is an additional reason why the quality of locally produced smallgoods must be higher and higher’.

In short, there is now an increased demand for healthy, high quality gourmet foods in Australia, with customers becoming increasingly health-oriented and discerning. In this climate of more conscious eating and food choices, the Italian food industry has carved out an important space for itself as a leader that knows what customers want and that is now also influencing other companies and enterprises. Catering for an increasingly diverse market here in Australia, “Puopolo Artisan Salumi” always protects and respects the Italian heritage and the Italian ways and traditions.

With this in mind and by way of conclusion, Vito and Michael, as representatives for “Puopolo Artisan Salumi” today, stress that they are genuinely bringing into Australia the culture of new products (they are one of the few producing Speck, Bresaola, Prosciutto Cotto, and Mortadella the Italian way) and they teach consumers how to use, taste, enjoy them.

Please note, as an additional effort to enhance the legacy of their Italian heritage linked to an incredible knowledge about the endless variety of Italian salumi, Vito and Michael have accepted to give their contribution, featuring on Channel 31 with a series of 10 episodes from the Regional Italian Cuisine show ‘in which we will be describing the history and the origins of our most renowned products. We must remember that the production of some of the Italian salami and cured meats dates back to before the rise of the Roman Empire! We are talking of more than 3000 years ago when the Etrurians were living and flourishing in Tuscany’.

The ultimate aim of this important, environmentally aware Italian food company operating within an Australian market context is ‘to inform people and allow them to make better and healthier choices for themselves, their family and the planet’.

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