Besana was founded in 1921 by Emilio and Vincenzo Besana, with four generations of the family at its helm. Today, the executive team includes their grandnephew Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Calcagni as honorary president – and a founding member of the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) in 1983 – along with Vittoria Calcagni as head of Public Affairs and Riccardo Calcagni in the CEO seat.
In 2020, Besana became part of the Spanish conglomerate Importaco Group. The move created the largest European alliance in the nuts sector and boosted Besana’s presence into the elite group of the top 10 global players.
Today, it is the main Italian nuts and dried fruits manufacturer in terms of volume of business, processing more than 38,000 tonnes of nuts, dried fruit and seeds in three production sites – two in Italy and one in the UK. The company posts an annual turnover of more than €190m from goods sold to clients across five continents.
Besana has supplied British supermarkets since its partnership with M&S in 1935, finally establishing a UK business unit in 1989. The company now supplies all the major retailers in the UK, including Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Aldi. In 2012, the UK government bestowed a ‘Long Term Investment Award’ on Besana for 25 years of activity in the country.
Overcoming all odds
The company’s solid reputation has survived a World War, two major fires, an earthquake, globalisation, Brexit and, most recently, the pandemic. It has also been at the forefront of global movements, such as female empowerment, innovation, sustainability and public health.
“In one hundred years, we have been through a lot and this gives us the courage and determination to look forward to the future with optimism,” said Pino Calgagni.
According to Besana, 65% of its 450-strong workforce is female. It is also committed to sustainability, having committed to making 25% of its packaging recyclable within the next year, and setting a target of 100% by 2025.
Besana also prides itself on pioneering technology in the sector. In 1935, it was the first company in Europe to install a mechanical shelling machine for hazelnuts, followed by the first-ever machine for peeling almonds in 1950. Today, Besana’s factories feature more than 12 processes, including cutting-edge technology related to food safety and production.
“2020 has made the world aware of its unthinkable fragility, leading to people questioning borders and distances,” added Riccardo Calcagni.
“We, too, have had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this has not stopped our goals for growth. We are used to facing obstacles as mere opportunities to reposition and relaunch.”