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Beardwood&Co. Captures the Passion and Legacy Of Family Run Volpi Foods

by Rudy Sanchez on 10/11/2021 | 5 Minute Read

For most of us, our traditions and fondest memories are punctuated by family and food. Those same things also motivate and drive immigrant-founded businesses to start to replicate the culinary traditions and flavors of the old country, as well as make a living in a new home with a foreign culture. Sometimes, the family business becomes such a success and cornerstone of the community that the operations are passed down from generation to generation, with successors continuing to deliver the quality and taste staked by the family name while modernizing the company so that it can get passed down yet again.

Volpi Foods is one such firm. Founded—and still located—in the Hill neighborhood of St. Louis 100 years ago, the Volpi clan has been dry-curing meats using techniques founder John Volpi brought with him from his native Milan. The current meat matriarch Lorenza Pasetti, the great-niece of the founder, felt that with the centenary of the family-operated business approaching, she reached out to agency Beardwood&Co. to refresh and contemporize the Volpi brand, reinforcing their inherent value while adding distinct shelf appeal.

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“The client wanted to modernize a 100-year-old brand and make it relevant for today,” said Ryan Lynch, partner and chief strategy officer for Beardwood&Co. Originally, Volpi approached Beardwood&Co. looking for new packaging, sensing it was no longer standing out among the current crop of competitors. But the agency identified other aspects of the brand that needed refreshing to better reflect the family firm’s character, especially of its new head Pasetti.

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Ryan and the other members of the Beardwood team went to work identifying ways to distinguish the brand and speak to today’s shoppers. 

They first crafted a new branding strategy emphasizing a “casual not complicated” attitude while also making the meat the star of the show. The agency also took advantage of the brand's longevity, drawing from the firm’s heritage to highlight freshness, family, and tradition in an approachable way.

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“What resonated was the idea that Volpi has been at this for 100 years. It's not that they originally learned in Italy. It's that they've been at it for 100 years and three generations,” Ryan explains. “How do we bring that to life in the redesign? Then we realized it’s ‘from our family to yours.’ The refresh was about this modern casualness that makes Volpi accessible.”

“We dug deep into the archives,” Lynch continues. “The new Volpi logo is inspired by the original that we found, and the little truck that plays an accent role was a picture of the original delivery truck that we found and now highlight on their website."

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The packaging takes a necessary departure from the past, however. “Volpi’s new script is based on the original logo. It really had a sense of fluidity, modernity, and casualness that says Volpi’s meats can be part of a picnic, but also something beautiful to bring to a dinner party,” Ryan says. “The blue color palette was different in the category, that's definitively distinctive. Blue plays against the other tropes and equally feels like a very modern and fresh food brand.”

But they also wanted to make the new packaging as sustainable as possible, something critical to Lorenza. Volpi Food’s new packaging is chock full of traditional touches and influences. But the material used in the packaging is something new, a deli tray for sliced meats that utilizes significantly less plastic. Overall, the packaging now uses 70% less plastic than it did before. 

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Lorenza didn’t just desire the packaging to be new visually—she wanted to set an example for her industry by transitioning to packaging that uses less plastic than your run-of-the-mill deli options. It’s not zero plastic (and it's not recyclable either), but Lorenza sees it as an incremental improvement, as well as a nudge to her competitors towards more sustainability by investing in new equipment to accommodate the updated packaging.

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Prepacked deli meats typically come on plastic deli trays as they keep the goods fresh and safe. The issue, of course, is that plastic lingers for hundreds of years on the planet, negatively impacting the environment, and everything that lives in it, including humans. Retooling her packing line and switching to an FSC-certified paper-based deli tray is one of the ways she wants to push the brand into the future. Volpi’s “eco-packs” are made from layers of paper with a smaller amount of plastic film. As acute as the plastic pollution crisis is, the more cynical might scoff at packaging that isn’t zero plastic or recyclable. However, for the sliced deli meat space, it serves as a crucial step towards removing plastic from the equation entirely. It's also miles ahead of the competition, a much-needed response to the current emphasis consumers place on sustainability.

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Having a great client always makes a project easier, and hearing Lynch describe Lorenza, you know she's passionate about her business and Volpi’s legacy. A brand refresh and transitioning to the most sustainable packaging option available lays a foundation for the future while maintaining the traditions and craft that carried the family business. Lorenza isn’t just thinking about the bottom line; she's maintaining the character and ethos of a family-run business. Recognizing that responsible governance isn’t just about cutting costs or increasing profits, it’s also about doing the best possible when it comes to the environment. 

“She is an inspiration, this woman. She's fierce,” Ryan says as he gushes over Passeti. “She's the one that came forward and said, ‘I'm changing the industry. I'm gonna fix this. And I'm the first to do it.’”

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