Italianità and the central role of cooking oils
One-quarter of Switzerland's oilseeds find their way into the Oleificio Sabo production plant, where they are processed into high-quality cooking oil. This long-established company's product portfolio includes a range of oils, from domestic rapeseed oil and Italian olive oil to argan oil.
It all began in 1845 in a small pharmacy in the heart of Lugano, which produced small quantities of oil for culinary and medicinal purposes. Luigi Bordoni took over the oil mill from his father-in-law and then, after World War II, began to expand what had originally been a small business. After being in the family's possession for 170 years, Oleificio Sabo was acquired by its current owners, Lorenzo Centonze and Alessandro Cavadini. "For us, taking over this venerable company has been the project of a lifetime," says CEO Lorenzo Centonze. Board Chairman Alessandro Cavadini agrees, adding, "We attach great importance to maintaining the company's character as a family business."
Italianità for Switzerland
Sabo's long history and the tradition of the founding family are not only an element in the company's success; they continue to influence how management operates on a daily basis. "Our Mediterranean roots and the Italian flair that we bring to the Swiss market are highly valued by our partners and customers," Centonze notes. This is one reason why Sabo's headquarters have remained in Ticino, in the same building where it all began. The new owners see strong ties to tradition as the foundation for ensuring that the company will be able to meet the challenges of the future – with respect to product depth, for example. However, Centonze sees no room for risky ventures in expanding into different products. "Tradition also means concentrating on our core competence, which is cooking oils."
A leader in organic farming
On the shelves of Switzerland's retailers are a wide variety of oils at every price point. "We're quite fortunate in that regard, relative to other countries," says CEO Centonze. Meeting consumer needs requires close contact with our customers, as trends in the food sector are constantly changing. This means taking a very proactive approach and assuming a leadership role, which is also among Sabo's strengths. Back in the 1980s, it was one of the first companies in Europe to invest in organic farming, and it was instrumental in the adoption of these methods in Switzerland. The investment paid off, says Cavadini: "We are now the top producer of organic oils in Switzerland."
The production facility in Horn has a press capacity of 100 metric tons per day. Sabo has made substantial investments in the factory. Until 2013 the company also had a production facility in Manno. "Consolidation was a massive undertaking," recalls Centonze, who was already the company's CEO at that time. In addition to the challenge of maintaining the company's delivery capacity, new employees had to be trained. When 2015 proved to be a record year, it was clear that efforts had paid off.