Buyers Select:
De Simoni (Switzerland)
Edition 15
The editorial staff of "Food & Wine Italia" curates the Buyers Select editorial series, giving the floor to international buyers who promote Italian culinary culture and its high-quality products abroad. In these interviews, leading figures of the international Taste community will share passions, stories, and reflections to take stock of the food and wine market's future and discover the most exciting companies at the Fortezza and on Pitti Connect.
Situated in Kriens in the Canton of Lucerne for the last four generations, the De Simoni family has made a name for itself in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as an importer of Italian wines, while also enriching its shelves with typical products that represent more or less all the regions of Italy. Over the years, it has won over a local customer base with an across-the-board offering capable of intercepting the need for well-being – also at the table – which became more important than ever before during the period of pandemic.
Which are the most interesting exhibitors for you that are attending Taste? Why? Could you give us a brief comment about each one?
When did your business start?  How would you describe its activities today?
Founded by Alberto De Simoni in Lucerne in 1917, the company is now managed by the fourth generation of the family. Our main area of specialization has always been wine imports with a focus on those regions in Italy that are naturally suited to viticulture, where we have set up a direct line with local producers. Completing the line are Italian specialty products including charcuterie, fresh and aged cheeses, pickled vegetables in oil and vinegar, pasta, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sweets. 
Who is your typical client?  Is the business mainly aimed at B2B or B2C?
Our business is aimed at satisfying both categories. Our customers include not only wholesalers, but also famous hotels, renowned restaurants, many pizzerias, and a growing number of Italian specialty food stores.
How has the vision of Italian cuisine and its products changed abroad? How do they differ from local products?
Italian products are a source of great interest among our clientele. Today, Italy is not only wine, pasta, tomato sauce and olive oil. There is in fact a much more extensive range of delicacies that have achieved success, from Piedmont truffles to Calabrian ‘nduja. Over the last two years, we have seen in particular a greater interest in quality, not only by large-scale customers but also by private ones, who forced to stay home, suddenly became amateur master chefs. In this scope, the Italian offering, when compared to local products, stands out for its incredible variety that manages to satisfy every palate. 
What do you believe is an Italian product still relatively unknown in your country, which is worth introducing?
The proximity of Switzerland to Italy helps us have a vast and constantly changing assortment of products, and for this reason, it’s difficult to name something that might be missing in our market. 
Have you recently detected a particular interest in the topic of sustainability, in environmental/ethical as well as economic terms?
It is an extremely important topic for our target of reference, which is interested in being kept informed not only about the characteristics of the products imported, but also about how they are made. In general, the producers with whom we collaborate are especially attentive to themes like respect for the environment and sustainability. 
Looking to the future of the food and wine market: in your opinion what will be the trends?
In our opinion it is projected towards maximum quality, certifications, and eco-friendly policies. 
Which are Taste’s main elements of distinction and value compared to other events?  How important is the return to in-person participation at events of this kind?
It is an event of excellences where it is possible to find a high level of diversification in the selection of stands and we admit that backing it is an impeccable organization: this year, we are happy to be returning for the fourth time and are sure we’ll discover original products. 
Posti del cuore-Places of the heart” at Taste: what is your favorite venue (coffee bar, shop, wine store, etc.) in Florence?
We usually allow the producers we collaborate with help guide us in such choices, so we can taste local specialties together and use it as an opportunity to also try something new.