Riso Gallo – Concrete actions, not just promises

There are going to be many challenges facing foodservice operators in the years to come. Post COP26 we expect to see requirements placed on all businesses to address their carbon levels, measure their own footprints and take measures to reduce their impact. This will undoubtedly mean that, in order to fully understand how your business is performing, you will need to take a good look at your suppliers, assess their own efforts and understand the impact they have on your overall scores.

Riso Gallo, the globally loved and the only international rice company to be completely Italian owned, have been taking steps to ensure they are leading the way in sustainable rice production. This work began a number of years ago, and they have made significant headway. The ambition and determination to give their end users full confidence in their Corporate Social Responsibility charter, is led by a multidisciplinary team that includes experts from many different departments (from Marketing, to R&D, to Purchasing, to Operations), as explained to us by Carlo Preve, Commercial Managing Director, and Mirko Mombelli, the Head of International Marketing at Riso Gallo

Before we look at the progress Riso Gallo have made, a small recap on just who they are, and the history behind the brand:

Riso Gallo have been a family run business since 1856. They are now in their 6th generation and have remained consistent in their company structure with the Preve family constantly leading the business. However, the leading positions of the company are not a birth right, they must be earned. Carlo Preve, for example, was encouraged to leave Italy and live for many years abroad, learn languages fluently and work for big multinational companies before returning to the Riso Gallo headquarters to take up the position as Commercial Managing Director.

Riso Gallo is really well rooted in its’ territory. There are 2 plants in Robbio, in the middle of the rice- lands of Northern Italy, and in original buildings that have been modernised over the years, yet still proudly showing off their heritage.

When it comes to Risotto rice, 100% of the Riso Gallo portfolio is grown in Italy. Riso Gallo work with many small, independent farmers, they have guided and supported them in switching their practices to Sustainable agriculture, offering them relevant support in terms of agronomical skills and also contractual support and economic rewards. This lead 120 of these farmers to sign off the “Rice Paper”, the summary of sustainability practices that Riso Gallo ask to those farmers that want to supply sustainable risotto rice, generating the first community of this kind in the rice world: from a family business, they created a real family of different actors working together

Though Riso Gallo is perhaps best known for its Risotto Rice, in particular the sought-after, matured Carnaroli Gran Riserva – they have a sizeable portfolio that also includes special varieties such as Rustico Carnaroli, Black and Red Wholegrain rice, and a Basmati Rice: all of these, are sustainable too, even the Basmati, which is grown in the Punjab region: Riso Gallo’s Basmati is the only example of sustainably grown Basmati offered all across European Foodservice.

Pioneers in Rice Sustainability

Together with wheat and maize, rice is one of the three leading food crops in the world. On average, four billion of the world’s population consider rice as part of their staple diet. With statistics like this, it is no surprise that the production, packaging and distribution of rice could have a huge global impact. And with Italy providing more than 50% of overall European rice supply, it is clear why Italian rice is so relevant.

Riso Gallo is the first international brand in Europe to have undertaken the production of rice that is fully sustainable, from the field to the rice mill, making their premium best-selling rice – Gallo Traditional Risotto, Arborio, Carnaroli, Gran Riserva, Black Wholegrain, Red Wholegrain and Basmati rice fully Sustainable, according to the most prestigious international schemes. This is certified by independent auditors.

In this context, Riso Gallo has adopted various practices:

Using Life-Cycle Assessment studies conducted in partnership with the University of Milan – repeated over the years – Riso Gallo monitor the carbon footprint of the entire supply chain and suggest how to reduce greenhouse gases through encouraging alternative rice growing techniques and optimising water management, on top of offering continuous agronomic consultancy and supporting their farming community in reaching these goals.

The use of energy from 100% renewable sources, together with the constant effort to improve and reduce the materials that are used for packaging is a sign of the company’s commitment to the ecosystem and to the communities that live and work into it. From the use of FSC certified cardboard to the progressive switch to plastics that are suitable for recycling in their vacuum 1Kg rice packs, including dedicated foodservice packs. This is a worldwide first, as nobody else has been able to use recyclable materials applied to a vacuum plastic.

Riso Gallo commit to a circular economy. Currently, in the rice industry over 99% of the rice by-products are used to produce energy or for animal feed. At Riso Gallo, indeed, they have a 360-degree approach: they also became shareholders into innovative start-ups which add incremental value to those by-products, like straw and husk. What Riso Gallo is doing together with these start-ups where they have become shareholders is to use them to create furniture, and also to build houses using rice by-products, energetically autonomous and fully insulated: from rice, to innovative design and architecture.

In Summary

The efforts of the Preve family, and all those who work within Riso Gallo began a few years ago, are fully coming to fruition. By liaising and partnering with universities and institutes, Riso Gallo are playing a huge part in evolving the rice industry to ensure a sustainable and inclusive future.

For chefs and business owners, Riso Gallo products continue to deliver high quality and healthy rice, and that is now also sustainable. Starting from a corporate CSR and brand values, the sustainability commitments became a reality with Riso Gallo products, that have been tested, measured, questioned and held accountable from farm to the end user. As a result, there is a wide product range for Foodservice operators that is delivered in many sizes from 500g to 25Kg sacks, including sustainably farmed products and fully recyclable packs.

The sustainable story for Riso Gallo does not end here. They are used to talking within the rice mill that, at Riso Gallo, “sustainability is a path”, and many new steps have already been planned, also including new relevant investments.

With climate change requirements and regulations to become part of any business structure in the coming years, chefs need to know – in detail – where their ingredients are coming from, and if they are truly sustainable. Riso Gallo can guarantee you theirs are.

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