Tanda & Spada

19 October 2013 Off By Pastaria

Tanda & Spada, a Sardinian pasta factory which has understood that by identifying itself with its territory it is in a better position to tackle today’s market challenges.

It was 1990 when Natalio Tanda and Antonio Spada decided to set up a factory for manufacturing dry pasta in the outskirts of Thiesi. This was quite a challenge being as the two, bound not only by family ties but also by their profession and friendship, didn’t really have a great deal of experience in the sector.

The undertaking was, however, a fascinating one.  Then, not unlike today, not many people on the island of Sardinia were interested in trying their hand at dry pasta production, maybe because local tradition seems more focused on fresh or filled products, such as ravioli, culurgiones (literally “little bundles” – a regional stuffed pasta) and sebadas (a traditional Sardinian sweet filled ravioli). However, feasible margins for being able to earn a market share were there, especially for anyone whose aim was to produce top quality pasta with an eye on overseas markets.

Time in the end proved these two entrepreneurs right and it was the market which rewarded them for their continuous commitment and constant passion.

In fact, what has characterized the history of this small company, which now has six employees, has been its constant growth and consolidation, regardless of everything.  A few years ago one of the founding members, Natalio Tanda, suddenly passed away, but this painful and destabilizing loss was overcome with time and actually gave the family and business even greater motivation to continue doing better.  In fact, Natalio’s children, despite being very young, immediately came into the company and were able to give continuity to the business, coping not only with a difficult moment in their lives but also with all the other issues that island companies have to deal with on a daily basis concerning the higher costs of raw materials, logistics and transport infrastructures which are oftentimes lacking and inefficient.

Today the owners of the Tanda & Spada general partnership are Antonio Spada and Pasquale Tanda, Natalio’s son. The pasta factory is also the workplace of Pasquale’s brothers, Giovanni and Pierangelo who work in production alongside two other employees.  Although the plant, covering over 800 square meters of covered production facilities, is mainly mechanized, processes still quite intentionally require a great deal of manual input. The company decided that it wanted to keep an artisanal image, leaving only basic functions to machinery which in any case require continuous supervision and intervention from staff.

The quantities produced also suggest an artisanal rather than an industrial enterprise.  In fact, average production stands at 2 metric tons a day of total packaged product which is sold mainly under the company’s two brands, Badde Alba and Monte Granatico, but also under private labels, above all for large retail outlets.

Tanda & Spada pasta is now available in dozens of shapes.  In addition to typical Sardinian pasta types, such as malloreddus (also known as gnocchetti sardi), fregola (a type of Sardinian pasta similar to couscous) and gnocchetti, the company’s range also includes not only a number of specialties from other Italian regions but also new products, the result of experiments and innovations that have been made over the years.  The packaging, in transparent bags so that consumers can easily see the product inside, are available in sizes of 500 grams or 2.5 kilos, the latter format being aimed mainly at restaurants and catering. A large part of the production is organic, for which Tanda & Spada can boast not only European certification but also American NOP and Japanese JAS certification.  This pasta is in fact now on offer, not only on the regional and domestic market, but also in Japan and North America, not to mention various European countries and Australia.

The artisanal production process, the overall high quality of the product and the care given to service are what give this company its success. But it is thanks to its orientation towards continuous improvement that ensures the company reaps its rewards.  The latest project is related to the supply chain for durum wheat, grown and milled in Sardinia.  The pasta factory was one of the first to join this network agreement which also involves cereal farmers, mills and bakers dedicated to using regionally produced durum wheat semolina in their production processes. This network’s aim isn’t just to show off local raw materials and create a virtuous circle allowing the Sardinian economy and agriculture also to gain ground and be reassessed in the eyes of the market.  The aim is above all to revive traditional specialty breads and pasta, which not only have a Sardinian name but also incorporate Sardinian heritage, production processes and above all Sardinian semolina.

This commitment, albeit demanding, also from an economic and work point of view, does not deter Tanda & Spada, who are convinced that this is the right way forward and that it can turn a profit not only for the company, but above all for Sardinia. The dream of these young entrepreneurs is to give something back to their island by promoting its all too suffering local agriculture.  Tanda & Spada hope that one day they will also be able to offer organic Sardinian pasta. However, for this to happen it appears we still have to wait a little longer, although the goal doesn’t seem that far away.  All we need is just a little patience.

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