A year on from its launch, Violì is already proving a success story: awards have been won, targets surpassed. But the project’s true significance goes far deeper. Not just embracing where we want to be as a company, but laying out a roadmap for getting there.
Affectionately known as ‘Dr. Artichoke’, account manager Vito Carrieri knew the selection of project partners to start a consortium would be vital. “The three we chose to involve in the project — Apofruit, Cericola and Giardina — are spread geographically from Sicily to Northern Italy, giving us a 9-month growing season from October to June. But they’re also very different types of companies: Apofruit is large and brings marketing and other know-how; Cericola has unrivalled technical artichoke expertise; while Giardina is a respected brand in the south and familiar to retailers.”
When asked what excites her about Violì, Claudia Iannarella, Customer & Consumer Manager BASF Vegetable Seeds Italy, has a long list! But at the top, alongside how the project is connecting people, is what she calls the project’s ‘Italian values’. “Italians work together to overcome a challenge. From the outset, there’s been transparency about aligning our commercial needs. The partners trust me and Vito fully to represent them. It’s an incredible group of people and a real bond has grown between us. They no longer see us as suppliers, but as partners and the group have become genuine friends.”
“Violì’s tagline, italiani dal cuore tenero (Italians with a tender heart) is literally true: each artichoke must pass the highest quality controls. It’s seed-to-table 100% Italian, something Italians really value. But Violì also has a tender heart because it’s sustainable (with fully recyclable packaging) and all Violì partners are committed to fair employment practices.”
Better quality, better image
Violì has been given a fun, fresh logo and tagline, which translates as Italians with a tender heart. This is true literally: the innovative hybrid artichokes are premium quality and the partners only brand them as Violì if they pass strict externally certified quality controls. The product is also 100% Italian, seed to table - an important selling point in the home market. But the tender heart also reflects a commitment to sustainability, with fully recyclable packaging, and the ethical employment practices to which all partners formally sign up.
But how can consumers possibly know all this? Well, one small digital innovation is the QR Code on Violì packaging. Zap it and you’re directed to the website, crammed with info on cultivation, quality, preparation techniques and more.
A big challenge is getting retailers and consumers to fall in love (again) with the artichoke. “Step-by-step we’ve convinced retailers to carry Violì throughout the season, explains Claudia, “and they have seen how Violì delivers on its promise of being a premium product, as well as being 100% Italian and having strong sustainability credentials.”
Young consumers saw artichokes as old-fashioned, unreliable, and difficult to prepare and cook. As Vito explains, Violì changes all that. “Violì comes ready-to-cook. It has a hairless fruit with small tender leaves and year-round consistent quality. The modern packaging carries recipes that celebrate regional culinary practices — the perfect combination of innovation and tradition. Making Violì accessible and reviving consumption of fresh artichokes.”
The endgame, explains Claudia, is that BASF Vegetable Seeds be perceived as the preferred partner in both the Artichoke and general vegetable markets. “We must prove to the market that we’re good partners to everyone in the supply chain, including retailers. Developing projects that add genuine value for all parties. It’s not just our innovative varieties that we bring to the table but also skills, market knowhow, consumer knowledge and a global vision. Plus, of course, an ability to develop successful products that will appeal to consumers.”
Given the passion and enthusiasm with which Claudia, Vito and the three partner companies are collaborating on this project, we can be confident the story of Violì helping consumers rediscover their love of fresh artichokes is only just beginning.
“Italian consumers saw artichokes as old-fashioned, unreliable and difficult to prepare and cook. Violì changed all that. It comes ready-to-cook. The hairless fruit has small tender leaves and year-round consistent quality, while the packaging carries recipes that celebrate and respect regional culinary traditions. It all helps make Violì more accessible and enjoyable.”