Hanging out in Tuscany

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It’s hard to believe that I have already lived in Italy for 2 weeks; the time really has flown by. I have thus far avoided death by: stomach explosion given all the incredible food I’ve been eating, alcohol poisoning from the ‘samples’ we regularly enjoy and Italian driving. I had heard much about the Italian driver in the past, but nothing is quite like seeing it first-hand. They tend to drive with a cigarette in one hand, mobile phone in the other, yet someone still manage to navigate the tight twisty roads at double the speed limit, whilst driving in the middle of the road, with no seat belt of course. The image pictured above gives a perfect example of Italian ‘parking’ at its finest.

At Birra Amiata, we have been busy preparing for the annual chestnut festival, which is the town’s major event. Birra Amiata produce a variety of flavoured ales, one being chestnut, so this is a big event for them. What has been made clear through conversations in broken Italian/English on our way to Siena for a meeting, has been that trade in Italy is very difficult. You only need to look at the terribly low house prices to see how much the economy has been affected by the Euro Zone crisis. According to the owner, running a business in Italy is nigh impossible now, given the high levels of Corporation Tax (from what I could gather, they are as high as 70%), Income Tax (around 50%) and issues within the government. For this reason a lot of their work is carried out abroad through exporting.

Birra Amiata are not helped by their location. You can’t pass more than 5km without seeing a vineyard, and locals would much rather enjoy a glass of red than an ale. As well as the chestnut festival, this week we’ve been preparing beer for various beer festivals; major events in Belgium and Rome are a week away. Birra Amiata do all production in house, including bottling, labelling and distribution. This obviously involves extra resources in the shape of labour hours, warehouse space and travel costs. In order to offset this risk, they also produce other company’s beer in their brewery, thus spreading the risk.

Despite Frumtious not being in beer, the similarities in production, branding and logistics across the industries have given me a huge insight into the challenges and how to overcome them. This was also a good news week for Frumtious in another sense; I found out midweek that we had been shortlisted for a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award. Only 10 applicants are shortlisted from the national competition, and four then win a £1,000 award. For Frumtious this means having the funds available to produce packaging, which would ensure that the product is on shelves even quicker. The Award is given based on judges’ votes and an online public vote. So I implore you to visit this link and spend 30 seconds voting for Frumtious please: www.shell-livewire.org/awards/grand-ideas-awards

This blog is also available on the Kindle Store and you can follow me on Twitter (@benpfsmith) to find out more or get in touch

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One thought on “Hanging out in Tuscany

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