June 5, 2018 / 4:18 PM / 14 days ago

Pasta maker Barilla to invest 1 billion euros to win over consumers

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s Barilla is investing 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) over five years to expand production and launch new products as the world’s biggest pasta maker responds to shifting demand.

FILE PHOTO: A man throws Barilla spaghetti into boiling water as he cooks at his home in Rome, Italy, September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo

Barilla’s pasta and sauces have grown faster than its bakery business in recent years, and now account for almost 60 percent of total sales.

To respond to growing demand, the family-owned group will earmark part of its 2018-2022 investments to expand its two main factories producing pasta and sauces in Italy, Barilla’s Chief Strategy Officer Mariapaola Vetrucci said on Tuesday.

The company will also invest in pasta plants in the United States and Russia, core markets for the group, Vetrucci said.

To tap growing consumer demand for healthier food, the group plans investments on product innovation, Vetrucci said.

Mirroring bigger rivals like Nestle (NESN.S), Barilla cut sugar and salt content in 12 of its sauces last year. It also launched 10 new pasta products, including a range of whole grain pasta, vegetarian sauces and gluten-free crisp bread products.

Sales at the family-owned group rose 3 percent last year, at constant exchange rates, to reach nearly 3.5 billion euros, with pasta sauces growing nearly 10 percent, Vetrucci said.

($1 = 0.8563 euros)

Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Edmund Blair

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