It’s a sunny afternoon at the Monge Group’s facilities, located on the outskirts of the small village Monasterolo di Savigliano. The big factories that dominate the area are amongst the largest and most advanced in Europe for high quality pet food production, and totally self-sufficient due to an integrated production chain. The company does everything themselves, from the collection of fresh feedstock to the production of their own food and cans, to packaging and distribution within Italy. The solar panels that have been placed on the roof of every facility are one of many signs that this is a company that strives to be as eco-friendly as possible.
“Environmental concern is embedded in the very nature of our business, since we recycle by-products from slaughterhouses and turn them into new products," explains Managing Director of the family company, Domenico Monge.
The history of the Monge Group started at this very spot back in 1963, when Domenico’s father Baldassarre Monge founded a chicken poultry farm. The family had a dog who suffered from eating disorders and they were advised by a vet to feed him with chicken meat.
“I was just a small kid, but I remember how my father started preparing pet food in my mum’s kitchen, cooking tiny cans on a pressure cooker. At some point, it dawned on him that there was a market for these products, and little by little we expanded the business," Domenico Monge recalls.
For many years, poultry farming remained the core business, but when Domenico and his sisters came of age, they decided to develop the pet food production. It would prove a very successful strategy. Business has been booming for many years, sometimes doubling the revenues from one year to another. Today, the Monge Group is the third biggest pet food producer in Italy, and their products are exported to 82 countries. Yet even though they now employ 270 people, they remain a family company driven by their founder’s ideas.
“Since the very beginning my father has been passing on his values to us children, our children and all our employees. Respect for the environment is part of his ethics and we constantly work to reduce our energy use. By taking energy-saving measures like using solar panels, lowering our water consumption and producing cans with thinner walls, we reduce our energy consumption by up to 50 per cent," Domenico Monge says and adds:
“The strong point of our company is the integrated production chain. Our logistics are tightly integrated with the production schedule and that increases our efficiency, cuts costs and gives better service to our customers. This is vital for us, since we are based far away from the markets for selling the finished goods.”
Environmental concern is embedded in the very nature of our business.
Located in an area often referred to as “the island of Cuneo” due to its poor road conditions and connections to Italy’s main routes, running their own logistics has been pivotal for the Monge group since the very beginning. The company owns a firm called Monge Logistica with 48 vehicles, 40 of which are Volvos. The vehicles collect daily fresh feedstock and deliver it to the factories, but also transport goods to customer’s transit points or hubs for the Italian market. This accounts for 30 per cent of the Group’s total sales. High performance, fuel efficient vehicles are crucial due to the harsh driving conditions in Cuneo, with narrow roads and mountainous landscape.
“We bought our first Volvo trucks at the beginning of the eighties - two Volvo F720s that I drove myself. We chose Volvo because of the high quality and we are very happy with the trucks’ performance. Volvo is now part of our tradition,” says Domenico Monge.
Even though the Monge Group are happy with their trucks, they are always looking to improve their environmental performance. Domenico is now planning to start buying LNG trucks from Volvo, and explains that this is in line with the desire to explore new solutions that is in his family company DNA:
“Research and development has always been a great part of our success. Using gas-filled vehicles would not only help the environment greatly. It would also benefit our company by cutting direct and indirect costs, since measures to cut fuel costs will surely be established. It would also help us put an end to our struggle against diesel thefts, as the LNG cannot be transferred”, he says.
The Monge Group is also considering possibilities to improve their vehicles’ aerodynamics through different solutions, and are educating their drivers on how to lower their fuel consumption. The company has set up their own document for their Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, in which care for the environment and an honest code of conduct are important elements. Every time the company hires a new person, he or she is trained to follow the CSR codex. Twice a year, the Monge Group organise training to make sure that the principles of good behaviour are passed on to their employees, customers and suppliers.
Using gas-filled vehicles would not only help the environment greatly. It would also benefit our company by cutting direct and indirect costs.
“The CSR document represents the building blocks of our company. We focus a lot on the behaviour of our truck drivers because they represent us towards our customers, they are our image in the market. And they work closely with the retail outlets, because they deliver the products," says Domenico.
He believes that the spirit of belonging and the motivation to acquire new skills and professionalism has helped his company to enhance its dynamic growth. Now, the production capacity is almost fully absorbed, with 70,000 tonnes of food produced every year. However in 2018, the Monge Group will be opening a new facility, aiming for 150,000 tonnes a year.
“The story of this company is fantastic and we are very happy with the results. I hope we will go on developing like this,” he says.
Monge & C Spa
Established in: 1963.
CEO: Baldassarre Monge.
Managing director: Domenico Monge.
Market share in Italy: 9.1 per cent.
Global coverage: Monge’s products are exported to 82 different countries.
Turnover: 157 million euro (2016).
Number of employees: 270.
Number of pet food cans produced every day: 1,500,000.
Annual pet food can production capacity: 127,000 tonnes in 2017, expected to rise to 200,000 tonnes in 2018.
Vehicle fleet: 48 trucks, whereof 40 Volvo Trucks.
Retention time (usage before selling): Six years.
CO₂ saving by using solar panels: 1,059 tonnes of CO₂/year.
Amount of annual kW electricity produced with cogenerator high efficiency: 3,500,000 kW.