Food Policy. Three new neighborhood hubs against waste in the city, over 615 tons of food recovered in 2023

At Palazzo Marino, on the occasion of the National Day of Prevention against Food Waste, the new actions for the strengthening of collection points and the new involvement of the city’s markets were presented.



Milan, 5 February 2024 – The Administration’s commitment in the fight continues to waste: on the occasion of the National Day for Prevention against Food Waste, which is celebrated today, the deputy mayor with responsibility for Food Policy and Agriculture Anna Scavuzzo presented the initiatives implemented in synergy with the city’s partners after the victory of the first edition of the Earthshot Prize 2021, a prestigious international award dedicated to the best solutions to protect the environment.
A set of actions that are the result of a year of collective work which involved 36 bodies in the sector and 12 partners including public and private entities, research bodies and companies in workshops, comparisons, needs analyzes and co-planning tables.

The commitment of the Administration and the City of Milan continues – said the deputy mayor with responsibility for Food Policy Anna Scavuzzoto combat waste and food poverty, a dual objective that is achieved with a synergistic action that sees in neighborhood hub a very concrete response: the impetus that the Earthshot Prize gave us allowed us to invest resources and co-plan how to use them together with the many subjects active on the Food Policy tables. Once again a good team effort that consolidates a highly effective food aid device in Milan“.

For the British Consul General in Milan, Catriona Graham, “as highlighted by the awarding of the Earthsot Prize, Milan’s Food Policy continues to prove itself at the cutting edge. We hope this partnership will help the City advance the impact of its work to reduce food waste – a critical challenge shared across our planet.”

With the aim, therefore, of reducing food waste and increasingly innovating the methods of recovering food for the most vulnerable, three new neighborhood hubs against food waste will be created in Milan by 2024: this is the Food Hub Cuccagna (Municipality 4), the Selinunte Hub (Municipality 7) and the widespread Hub (Municipality 2), which are added to those already active in the city (Isola Hub, Municipality 9; Lambrate Hub, Municipality 3; Centro Hub , Municipality 1; Gallaratese Hub, Municipality 8 and finally the Foody Zero Waste Hub, created within the Milan fruit and vegetable market).

The experience of neighborhood hubs – launched in 2019 by the Municipality of Milan together with Fondazione Cariplo, Programma QuBì, Assolombarda and Politecnico di Milano to encourage the recovery and redistribution of food surpluses with a territorial network of third sector entities, which they in turn send the food to people and families in difficulty – continues to grow, thus increasing the collection and storage centers for food from various merchants and large-scale retail outlets from five to eight.

The expansion of the network of neighborhood hubs for the fight against food waste for the benefit of the most vulnerable citizens is an important result for Milan which demonstrates a constant and joint commitment of the Cariplo Foundation, in synergy with the Municipality and all the actors of the city ​​food system. The Food Policy model of Milan, aimed at connecting and enhancing skills, represents a point of reference at an international level as demonstrated by the many awards received in recent years, not least the Earthshot Prize“, explained Carlo Mango, director of the Research area of ​​the Cariplo Foundation.

The Report of the Waste Watcher International Observatory shows how the total value of food wasted in Italy is over 13 billion euros per year. Continuously growing values, which show how important, in terms of social stability, attention to sustainability and care for the weakest families, initiatives such as ‘Zero Waste’ and the neighborhood hubs that Assolombarda, together with the Polytechnic, the Municipality of Milan and the Cariplo Foundation, have been implementing for several years now – said Adriana Pontecorvo, Group Vice President Food by AssolombardaAn even more central social function in recent months. Ours is an initiative that every year is enriched not only by new centers for the recovery and redistribution of food surpluses, but also by a strong push for innovation , with an increasingly precise mapping of surpluses and an ever-increasing number of companies joining this virtuous example of public-private collaboration. The ‘Zero Waste Hub’ brand, created pro bono by the Armando Testa agency, will increasingly enhance the commitment of the donors of surpluses and the many supporters of the project“.

The anti-waste alliance is also expanding thanks to a greater involvement of municipal markets in which the aim is to collect around 200 kg of surplus fresh produce per day in 20 city markets, a work that adds to that carried out within the Foody Zero Waste Hub. Eco delle Città APS, Associazione Banco Alimentare della Lombardia ‘Danilo Fossati’ ODV, Magma srl ​​Social enterprise, Recup APS, Comunità nuova non-profit organisation, Fondazione Arché and Caritas Ambrosiana.

Contributing to the reduction of food waste remains among Sogemi’s primary objectives. We are therefore proud to support the initiatives of the Food Policy of Milan, this year with the recovery of over 401 tons of food for the meals of approximately 10,600 people. A result obtained thanks to the precious collaboration and commitment of producers and wholesalers and of the bodies that carry out the collection. The Milan Agri-Food Market represents a strategic node for the Milanese food system and for the entire supply chain, it is therefore essential to continue to support projects and actions of solidarity and food sustainability“, added Cesare Ferrero, President of Sogemi, Milan Agri-Food Market.

Finally, the entire management of the neighborhood hubs will be improved through the digitalisation of the supply chain which will allow for better mapping of surpluses and available resources and shared and integrated logistics capable of optimizing the storage, collection and distribution system, and of finally also reduce the environmental impact.


The numbers

Over 615 tons of food recovered in 2023 alone, of which 574 tons from the five Neighborhood Hubs currently active in Milan, to which are added 41 tons from uncovered markets. Hundreds of thousands of surpluses that were redistributed among approximately 27,000 vulnerable people, equivalent to approximately 1,230,000 meals.

Over the last year, the Neighborhood Hub network has made it possible to increase the quantity of redistributed surpluses, guaranteeing fresh and dry food to an ever-increasing number of people in need in the city of Milan. As a scientific partner of the initiative, in this new year we will work to strengthen and innovate the system, integrating new partners, resources and services, and monitoring their impacts“, declared Raffaella Cagliano, Director of the Department of Management Engineering of the School of Management of the Polytechnic of Milan.

Our work in the area focuses on three types of poverty: energy, education and food, in support of a Just Transition. Pursuing this aim, we wanted to respond promptly and actively to the co-planning process promoted by the Municipality of Milan for the relaunch of Neighborhood hub – commented Angela Melodia, Head of Development and Innovation and Social and Cultural Redevelopment Projects of the Snam ETS Foundation -. We are convinced that it is essential to proceed with social interventions and inclusive initiatives towards the final beneficiaries, the vulnerable people, placing our resources and our skills at the service of the network actors and the partners involved, with whom we wish to create a system with a view to continuous innovation, with the common objective of generating an increasingly positive social impact“.

The subjects involved in the new neighborhood hubs
The three neighborhood hubs that will be active by 2024 follow a now consolidated model of public-private partnership which involves numerous actors. In particular:
– the Cuccagna Food Hub has as its project leader the Cuccagna Social Enterprise Shipyard Consortium Association, to which are added Emergency Ong onlus, Recup Social Promotion Association, Economy and Sustainability Association, Community Association Il Gabbiano ODV and Acra Foundation;
– Diffuse Hub will see the collaboration of Comin Coop Solidarity Society, Milano Positiva Aps, T12 Lab Association, Parish of Santa Maria Assunta in Turro, Terza Settimana Odv, Mutuo Soccorso Milano Aps;
– Hub Selinunte, a future logistics hub for food distribution, will finally be managed by Coopi international cooperation onlus.

The partners of the Neighborhood Hubs
Supporting bodies: QuBi Program, Fondazione Milan, Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Milano and Fondazione Snam.
Managing bodies: Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, Terre des Homme Italia, Ibva Solidando.
Foody Zero Waste Hub: Sogemi, Cariplo Foundation, University of Milan, Lombardy Food Bank, Recup, Southern Milan Red Cross, Eco dalle Città, Caritas Ambrosiana, Italian Red Cross Milan Committee
Technical sponsors: Avis Milan, SoDe social delivery , Armando Testa.
The brands involved: Lidl, Esselunga, Carrefour, Coop Lombardia, Il Gigante, Natura Sì, Iper La grande i, Unes, Getir, Pam, Erbert, Conad, Glovo, with 37 total sales points.

Food Policy. The fifth district hub against food waste opens

A new collection and storage centre for surplus food from various large-scale distribution chains to expand the network of district hubs that are taking action against food waste, set up by the City of Milan in collaboration with local partners and associations.


The new Centre Hub, which officially opened today, is located on the premises of Associazione IBVA, on Via Santa Croce 15, next to Solidando, the social market that has been committed to fighting food poverty for years.

Alongside the Gallarate, Isola and Lambrate Hubs, as well as the Foody Hub in the Milan agri-food market, the opening of the Centre Hub signifies a new point of contact in the City of Milan’s network that is fighting against food waste and supporting food aid initiatives in the city – a network which has already been awarded the Earthshot Prize in 2021 and is setting an international standard.

The opening of the Centre Hub was possible thanks to a tried and tested public-private partnership model. In particular, the initiative has been promoted by the City of Milan’s Food Policy department, IBVA, Municipality 1, Fondazione Cariplo, Assolombarda and the Politecnico di Milano through their Food Sustainability Observatory. The Hub was created thanks to the generous contributions of the Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Milano. A fair and green product collection and delivery service will be provided thanks to the partnership with So.De, the socially-conscious, supportive and sustainable delivery service.

District Hubs against food waste: statistics

A total of four hubs are already active throughout the Milan area: the Hub in Zone 4 at Foody – Milan’s agri-food market – which represents the evolution of the Fruit and Vegetable Hub, developed during the 2020 lockdown and thanks to which 138 tonnes of fresh produce were distributed over eight weeks; the Isola district Hub (Zone 9); the Lambrate Hub (Zone 3); the Gallarate Hub (Zone 8).

The initiative’s data monitoring is carried out thanks to its collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano’s Food Sustainability Observatory, as well as the support of Assolombarda with the Isola, Lambrate and Gallarate Hubs, and its collaboration with the University of Milan for the Foody Hub.

In 2021, the two hubs that had been set up in the Isola and Lambrate districts collected a total of over 170 tonnes of food, equating to about 340,000 meals. In the first half of 2022, these two hubs were also joined by the Gallarate and Foody hubs, which in the first six months of that year alone collected 130 tonnes, equating to over 260,000 meals.

In total, more than 3,000 households have been helped thanks to the work of the district hubs and the cooperation of a dozen brands involved across almost thirty outlets.

Neighbourhood Hubs against food waste win the Earthshot Prize

Dedicated to environmental protection actions, Milan’s anti-food waste project won £1 million and support from the Royal Foundation for the next few years.


Milan, 18 October 2021 – On the night of Sunday, 17 October 2021, Prince William announced that the City of Milan, with its Neighbourhood Hubs Food Policy project against food waste, is the winner of the first prestigious international Earthshot Prize for the best solutions to protect the environment.

A month ago it was announced that Milan was one of the 15 finalists in the “a world without waste” section, and yesterday, live on the BBC and Discovery Channel, Prince William unveiled the winners after an international panel of experts selected Milan from 750 candidate initiatives from around the world.

Along with Milan in the other four categories of the award were winners from the Republic of Costa Rica for the protection of forests, India for the reduction of smoke emissions into the air, Berlin for the development of hydrogen technologies for energy production, and the Bahamas for the protection of coral reefs.

In Milan, the BBC arranged a link to London from a terrace overlooking the Duomo, which was attended by Deputy Mayor Anna Scavuzzo, with representatives of all the partners who bring this project to life.

The £1 million prize will be used to further develop these hubs and open new ones, ensuring their long-term sustainability and replicating this excellent practice in the network of cities working with Milan on food policy, starting with the network of C40 cities and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

Winning the Earthshot prize is the recognition of a great team effort that has involved the entire city: thanks to the City Council and many organisations from the third sector, universities, large-scale retail trade and philanthropy operating in the area, Milan now has 3 neighbourhood hubs at Isola (2019), Lambrate (2020) and Gallaratese (2021).

The project was born in 2017 as a result of an alliance between the City of Milan, Politecnico di Milano (with the research group of the Food Sustainability Lab, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering) Assolombarda, Fondazione Cariplo and the QuBì Programme.
The creation of the first Hub then brought in Banco Alimentare della Lombardia and saved over 10 tonnes of food per month, ensuring a stream of 260,000 equivalent meals in one year, reaching 3,800 people, thanks to the contribution of 20 supermarkets, 4 business canteens and 24 Third Sector organisations.

In particular, the Food Sustainability Observatory conducted a network feasibility study and monitored the hubs’ operation and the impact generated by the project, thus making it possible to build an extensible logistic model replicable in other areas of the city.

Indeed, this was followed by the launch of the Hub in Lambrate, immediately after the first lockdown in spring 2020, also managed by Banco Alimentare della Lombardia in a space made available by AVIS Milano and with the support of BCC Milano. The third Hub, at Gallaratese, is managed by Terre des Hommes with the support of the Fondazione Milan.

Another one, currently in the planning stage, will be the neighbourhood Hub in Corvetto, managed by the Banco Alimentare della Lombardia and with the support of the Fondazione SNAM; while the City of Milan has recently started the co-design process for the Hub in the city centre with Associazione IBVA and the support of BCC Milano.


The team of the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering:
Alessandro Perego, Marco Melacini, Giulia Bartezzaghi, Annalaura Silvestro and Andrea Rizzuni from the Food Sustainability research group.

Partners involved:
The project involves major retailers including Lidl Italia, Esselunga, Carrefour, NaturaSi, Erbert, Coop Lombardia, Il Gigante, Bennet, Penny Market with the support of Number1 Logistics Group who provided the vans for the Isola and Lambrate hubs. Also involved were the canteens of Pirelli, Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Maire Tecnimont, coordinated by Gruppo Pellegrini for the Isola Hub.
With Fondazione Cariplo and SogeMi, the City of Milan has also launched the Foody zero waste initiative to replicate the hub model at Ortomercato and recover fresh food together with Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, Recup, Croce rossa sud milanese, Università degli studi di Milano and many other supporting partners.

Fighting food waste: the success of the neighbourhood Hubs for recovery and support for the most vulnerable

On the National Day for the Prevention of Food Waste on 5 February 2021, the data monitoring carried out by the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano shows that, thanks to the Isola and Lambrate Hubs, more than 3,300 families have been reached with 152,000 meals


The surplus collection target for 2020 is 76 tonnes: 62 were gathered between January and February and between June and December in via Borsieri and 14 in the newly opened Hub in via Bassini.

The idea of the neighbourhood Hubs stems from the “ZeroSprechi” memorandum of understanding between the City of Milan, Assolombarda and the School of Management at the Politecnico di Milano, signed in 2016. One of the priorities of Milan’s Food Policy is to reduce food waste and innovate ways of collecting food for the needy by designing and testing a model for collecting and redistributing surplus food based on local neighbourhood networks.

This project, as Giovanni Fosti explains, “is made possible by the presence of networks in the area such as the Qubi Programme – Fondazione Cariplo’s formula against child poverty”.

As Anna Scavuzzo, the deputy mayor of Milan in charge of Food Policy, affirms, “this action has allowed us to continue to work towards the goals of sustainability, but also of the right to healthy food”. The commitment to fighting waste will lead to the opening of two more neighbourhood hubs in the Corvetto and Gallaratese areas next summer.

Even in the face of the difficulties of the time” – according to Alessandro Perego, Director of the Department of Management Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano – “the results of the first Hub in Isola and the recent Hub in Lambrate have demonstrated the sustainability of a model that is based on structured operational processes and solid cross-sector collaboration. Hubs are also a central point in the social network of a neighbourhood. We will continue to work closely with contributing companies and all project partners to ensure the continuity and replicability of the system in other areas of the city.”

As Alessandro Scarabelli, General Manager of Assolombarda, puts it, “the crisis caused by Covid has severely affected the finances of many families, unfortunately worsening the conditions of those who were already struggling to find essential supplies. For this reason, the opening of two new hubs is even more significant for the social resilience of the city. The important results achieved are a clear sign of how important it is to team up and strengthen our commitment to build a model of collecting the surplus and redistributing them in support of the most vulnerable people”.


Project partners: City of Milan, Politecnico di Milano School of Management, Assolombarda, Fondazione Cariplo, Banco Alimentare.

How can traceability improve sustainability in the global coffee supply chain?

Food supply chains garner public attention for sustainability; traceability is one of the possible solutions, but is it always the case?

Verónica León-Bravo, Assistant Professor, School of Management, Politecnico di Milano


Sustainability in the food industry has recently gained a great deal of attention, as this sector faces several challenges regarding scarce natural resources to be preserved, attention to consumer’s health and safety, communities’ economic development around the world, food and packaging waste, land and water consumption, and unfair trade relationships. Moreover, consumers today opt for food that is not only tasty and nutritious, but also of high quality, grown responsibly and with specific characteristics or origin, which in turn calls for better and more efficient traceability. Consequently, food companies are developing varied initiatives, assessment policies, standards, traceability systems and reporting tools with sustainability purposes.

During the current health world emergency, food chains are also struggling with menaces on their products’ health and safety. As is the case of a few Brazilian poultry exporters who were suspended by China in July 2020 due to concerns about possible Covid-19 contamination in the containers. China established certain restrictions and newer or different certification requirements for food products coming from several countries, with the aim of avoiding a new outbreak, although no evidence that Covid-19 could be transmitted though food existed. Another case was related to Ecuadorian shrimp exports to China, which were suspended in July 2020 because of similar concerns relating to the containers, though the shrimp and inner packaging tested negative. How can companies in producing countries ensure buyers the quality and, even more critically, the health and safety of their products? Around the world, improved traceability could be the key for supply chain continuity under risky or unexpected situations.

Through its Food Sustainability Lab, the School of Management at the Politecnico di Milano is dedicated to studying the elements shaping and determining the food supply chain efforts to become sustainable, and improve its sustainability; thus, a broad multidisciplinary team is running several research initiatives in this area, given the interest and relevance for the academic community, companies and society at large.

One of the research lines is focused on the traceability systems implemented along the supply chain, in particular for food commodities, such as coffee, that involve actors dispersed around the world. Commodity chains are highly fragmented and long, with many very small producers in low-income countries, and several intermediaries are needed to ensure the product flow from origin to consumption. According to the International Coffee Organization, coffee consumption is steadily growing globally, reaching up to more than 169 million bags in 2019-2020. Producers (exporters) are mainly located in South America, Africa and South-East Asia, with Brazil being responsible for 43% of production. Global consumption registered close 119 million bags in 2019-2020, with the largest importers being the European Union and the United States [1]. Consumers in these markets increasingly demand coffee that is not only safe but also ethical, organic, generates a low carbon footprint, etc., requiring the supply chain to demonstrate traceability throughout the chain.

Traceability systems available in the market are said to help actors in the chain not only to track the product from origin to final consumption, but also to respond to the need for mandatory and voluntary quality standards, certifications of origin, and to create the basis for reporting sustainability-related practices and performance. The benefits of traceability could be spread along food supply chains: for managing risks, maintaining consistency and specific product features, and keeping a chain of custody. In addition, traceability helps to achieve operational efficiencies, increased productivity and reputational benefits.
Nonetheless, traceability requires substantial investments in technology and processes aimed at tracking goods along the supply chain. Cost is still proving to be a difficult barrier to overcome, especially in the initial production phases. Current debate in the literature also questions whether traceability systems are driven only by quality assurance expectations, or are also somehow related to sustainability needs and goals.

The research team at our School involved in this project is composed by Prof. Federico Caniato, Federica Ciccullo, Verónica León-Bravo and Giulia Bartezzaghi. Currently, we investigate the traceability systems implemented in the coffee supply chain, providing a taxonomy of solutions and characterizing how these systems are applied, in terms of technological display, information width and depth, as well as considering their relationship with sustainable value creation. The analysis of the case studies (including different stages in the chain, located in different geographical regions) revealed how the implementation of traceability systems along the coffee supply chain could be influenced by the targeted information width and depth, along with the supply chain tier, country of origin or company technological capabilities. On the other hand, it is observed that the link between traceability and sustainability, especially for coffee roasters, might be influenced by two main contingencies: volumes purchased and product type. Indeed, one of the companies being studied explained that dealing with large volumes makes it impossible to trace all the details up to the producer, especially for non-certified products. On the other hand, another company, using advanced technology for traceability, highlighted the precise information they are able to register and communicate while buying smaller lots from certified coffee producers. Besides, we found traceability and sustainability to be disconnected when they are both implemented but managed separately and not aligned. Whereas, traceability and sustainability can be synergistic when both followed a common strategy and are consistent with each other, i.e., the level of detail in the traceability system corresponds to the scope of sustainability practices.

Maintaining consistency and keeping a chain of evidence (e.g., benefits of traceability) are efforts incurred during the current health crisis as companies worked hard to apply newer and stricter safety measures that needed to be shown to international buyers. For instance, the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the slaughterhouses affected by the Chinese restrictions are working to reverse the bans and started testing the cargoes with the aim of demonstrating to buyers that the food is not only sanitized in the plants, but also before transportation. Similarly, Ecuador improved shipping protocols and applied the required quality standards, allowing shrimp exports to China to be resumed in August 2020. These two examples also show that different actors in the supply chain need to work together to apply health and safety measures, that in turn need to be demonstrated to the downstream actors, thereby ensuring traceability and transparency along the supply chain.

There is no doubt that adopting traceability could bring varied benefits to companies in the food supply chain, but for improving sustainability, it might not be enough. Sustainability in food supply chains needs attention from varied angles. Traceability implementation in a commodity supply chain is one of the projects currently being developed at our School. Other research projects in place are observing different food supply chain configurations, such as short supply chains, and their implications for sustainability; or analyzing the added value of information obtained in the assessment for sustainability with a supply chain-wide perspective.

Managing sustainability along food supply chains is still a work in progress that requires multi-tier involvement for reducing ‘distances’, reaching common understandings and better performances; and thus, achieving food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture as called for by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.




Is Made in Italy forever?

As more Countries promote the quality of their products and destinations, some essential sectors of the Italian industry are facing with a hard question: is the “Made in Italy” brand still competitive? And how can it guarantee a competitive advantage for our country in the long term?


Filippo Renga, Junior Assistant Professor of Production Plants and Business Organization
School of Management Politecnico di Milano


“Is Made in Italy forever?”: that’s the question that emerged during the 2018 Research of our Smart Agrifood and Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatories.

Beyond the slogan, an important doubt emerged about the competitiveness of some essential sectors of the country’s industry: can the “Paese Italia” brand – identified with the “Made in Italy” and frequently used in many sectors (food, tourism, clothing, music, design, art, etc.) to underline the Italian identity of a product or a service to increase its value on the market – survive intact in the long term and guarantee a competitive advantage for our country?
This is a question we will try to answer through the upcoming research, but which has already found confirmation in some phenomena we are recording.


Food quality is not only Made in Italy

Starting from food, we all know that any product with the “Made in Italy” mark receives special attention by a large part of the international consumers. This gives origin to frauds linked to the “Italian Sounding” (that is the use of images, brands and denominations recalling Italy to market products that are not related to our country in any way. Just think to the well-known “Parmesan”).

However, through our experience we realized that more and more countries promote the quality of their food products, thereby dispelling the myth of the “quality food” as a prerogative of Italy. For example, it is interesting to notice that in extremely attended international events dedicated to quality food – such as in London or Berlin – there isn’t a significant presence of Italian companies. Furthermore, food trends often originate outside our country (e.g. organic food). Even though a Google search it is possible to see that, if you insert the words “quality food” in the local language of many countries, no Italian product emerges. Finally, many TV formats about the restaurant industry were born abroad and are therefore imported by us.

This also happens because the concept of quality is anything but unequivocal, as shown by the model of the Food Quality Heptagon (see the Slide Booklet “Quality and sustainability with the digital traceability”) we developed. Many recent successful innovations in the food industry weren’t born in Italy, although they relate to products that have always been considered our “feuds”, as was the case of the coffee with Nespresso and Starbucks; or in the case of tomatoes, of which Holland is one of the first exporters in the world thanks to high-tech indoor farming systems, that made it possible not only to increase the production but also to improve the taste compared to the past.


What happens in tourism

On the other hand, in Tourism the weaknesses of the “Italia Brand” are clearly shown by an analysis of the international tourist flows coming to our country: if in 1970 Italy was in the first place in terms of attraction, in 2017 – according to the UNWTO data – Italy is fifth behind France, Spain, USA and China. You may think that the focus was more on the quality and less on the quantity (and therefore the expense) of the tourists, but numbers say that this did not happen in a significant way more than in other destinations.

The reasons are instead related to different fields, but fundamentally there is a strategic weakness about Tourism and the industries linked to it. If you take for example the Chinese market, among the most interesting both for the number and for the average receipt, Italy is behind the main European competitors for attractiveness. As underlined by Giuliano Noci (Vice Rector of the Chinese campus of the Politecnico di Milano) on the occasion of the Conference of the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory of 24 January (download the documents and videos of the Conference “The Italian Digital Way for the future of Tourism”), there was and there still is a lack of a medium/long-term strategy linked to different factors, among which:

  • the inability to give value to our brands (there is no evidence that one of our museums has been able to promote its brand like, for example, the Louvre in Paris did);
  • a structural deficit on connections (especially the aerial ones: Chinese people comes to Italy through other European cities)
  • the storytelling that promotes the territory through the audio-visual industry (mainly the cinema industry) primary vehicle of knowledge and learning for the Chinese (Swiss tourist resorts are the sets of some TV series distributed in China).

If there is a risk that Italy may lose its competitiveness, it could also happen that, due to the extraordinary assets available in our country, the Chinese will start to considerably invest to offer experiences and products to the millions of tourists and consumers looking for Italian contents. Nevertheless, this is already happening in other fields with the clothing or the sports industry.

And then we should add another question to the opening one (“Is Made in Italy forever?”), an equally concerning question: “Made in Italy… by whom?

From the fisherman to the customer, via MIP: the case of Orapesce

The study on the food sector. The idea born on the beaches of Rimini. And then the support of MIP, followed by the choice of equity crowdfunding: Giacomo Bedetti, 2016 part-time EMBA alumnus, tells us about the origins of Orapesce, a digital fish market service.

Innovation was born in the classrooms of MIP. Evidence of this is Orapesce, a startup that operates in the fish market by offering its customers the possibility of purchasing fresh fish online that is delivered directly to their homes. «Analysing the performance of the grocery sector, it was evident that the growth of digital consumers in the food sector was a significant trend», explains its founder Giacomo Bedetti, 2016 part-time EMBA alumnus, telling us about the genesis of the project. «Then, talking to a fisherman friend in Rimini, the spark came that led to the idea».

MIP’s added value

Indeed, until the creation of Orapesce, «a digital fish market service didn’t exist», explains Bedetti. «It was an opportunity to be seized immediately, creating a business-oriented group». In the ideation phase, MIP played an extremely important role. «Being able to explore the potential of this idea during the Executive MBA programme I was attending was crucial. Alongside a strong motivational element, there was the contribution of Professor Antonio Ghezzi, who gave us the tools to read the business and the relative metrics. And then we were able to count on the support and experience of skilled professionals». A series of elements that contributed to an excellent start on the market: «The phase of project work for Orapesce ended in July 2018, and we posted revenue of 100,000 euros in 2019. An extraordinary result, that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of MIP».

Equity crowdfunding to boost communicative momentum

At this moment, Orapesce, after 14 months of activity, finds itself in an extremely delicate phase of its life. «It’s the hard reality of startups. Either you grow, or you die», explains Bedetti without mincing words. Growing means achieving significant numbers, and this is often tied to visibility. «It’s one of the reasons we decided to finance this business exploiting the equity crowdfunding model, that allows those enrolled to invest in innovative projects. We succeeded in bringing Orapesce on Mamacrowd, which in Italy is the best possible platform for this model». At end February, Orapesce on this platform raised 381% of the minimum set goal, for a total of over 300,000 euros. «But the economic factor isn’t everything», reveals Bedetti. «For Orapesce, Mamacrowd was a commercial showcase. It’s not easy to gain the attention of 100,000 contacts, instead in this way we were able to take advantage of a real flywheel effect».

Goal: become a marketplace

Those who have visited the site of Orapesce will have realized that it’s not limited to being a shop, but also proposes a series of contents to users. «Our goal in this stage is to establish a brand that sells fish. But this is only the first step», explains Bedetti. «What we really aim for is the strengthening of a marketplace that puts consumers and producers in contact. In our future development there is a model in which earnings will be based mainly on commissions on exchanges within this network». For this reason, the site is rich in interviews with chefs and fishermen: «We want to use the possibilities of new devices to offer a path to the consumer, and to establish a strong digital identity».

The importance of soft skills

And if within Orapesce the importance of digital goes hand in hand with that of logistics, we must not neglect the general management skills that allowed Bedetti to create this startup. «I’m not talking so much about hard skills, but of soft ones. I attended the Executive MBA programme as someone over 40, I already had a lot of experience behind me. I didn’t need another title, but I felt the need to improve myself. That’s why I chose this master’s programme. There’s nothing more valuable than soft skills: knowing how to negotiate, knowing how to build relationships, being a good leader, today, are essential skills for those who aspire to become a manager or an

Milan’s Local Food Hub against food waste: more than 150,000 meals recovered for a total of 77 tonnes of food

Last 14th January, the local Food Hub located at Via Borsieri 2 in Milan (District 9) celebrated its first birthday and an incredible success: 77 tonnes of food, the equivalent of 154,000 meals, were saved from going to landfill in its first year, with 21 non-profit organisations, 11 supermarkets and 5 company canteens involved in the initiative.
And a new Food Hub in District 3 is ready to open its doors.

The Deputy Mayor in charge of Food Policy, Anna Scavuzzo, said: “This has been a great success for the Via Borsieri Hub – it has laid the foundations for other districts. The figures show that if everyone involved works towards a common goal, it is possible to create an effective and supportive network capable of meeting the needs of a big city like Milan. With the participation of two important new players, AVIS Comunale di Milano and Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Milano, we are now ready to open another Hub in District 3.”

In 2015, Milan introduced a new Food Policy to pioneer a more sustainable food system throughout the city, introducing a multidisciplinary and participative approach under which city authorities act as drivers and enablers. A top priority in this food policy is to reduce food waste, and the best way to achieve that goal was to bring local players on board, namely the city’s research centres, institutions, private sector, foundations and social actors.

To translate this priority into concrete action, in 2016 the City of Milan, Assolombarda (the Lombardy section of the Italian Entrepreneurial Association) and the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano signed a memorandum of understanding, entitled “Zero Waste”, drawn up to reduce food waste and implement a new method for recovering and redistributing surplus food which would then be donated to people in need.

The design and experimentation of such a model aimed at collecting and redistributing unsold products or unserved cooked meals was built around local networks of supermarkets, corporate canteens and non-profit food-aid organisations. It gave rise to the first district Food Hub promoted by the City of Milan, Assolombarda, the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, in partnership with Banco Alimentare Lombardia (Lombardy Food Bank) and supported by the “QuBì Programme – The recipe against child poverty”, promoted by Fondazione Cariplo with the support of Fondazione Vismara, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, Fondazione Romeo ed Enrica Invernizzi, Fondazione Fiera Milano and Fondazione Snam.

The School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano conducted a feasibility study of the model and has been in charge of monitoring operations at the hub and for the whole system whilst measuring the impact of the project over a 12-month period, building a logistical model that now is being scaled up and replicated in other areas of the city.

All district Hubs will provide practical answers to the demand for city-wide food waste reduction and access to food by those in need, ensuring a small-scale food collection and redistribution service.
The Via Borsieri Hub donated 77 tonnes of food – equivalent to about 154,000 meals – with an economic value of €308,000, reaching the levels predicted by the Politecnico di Milano in its model. Over the course of the year, the number of social players benefitting from the service, i.e. non-profit organisations, increased from 14 to 21.

“I am very pleased to have contributed to a systemic solution which addresses the salvage of small and scattered surpluses of food, which are the most difficult to manage,” said Alessandro Perego, Director of the Department of Management Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.These projects are an important lesson in mutual support for individuals and the community as a whole. Something that we seriously need at this time, when the risks of increasing social inequality and marginalisation are high.”

Banco Alimentare Director Marco Magnelli said: “One year later, the results of a projects that functions from the perspectives of logistics, hygiene, and health and safety, promoted and coordinated by Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, confirmed that it is a successful response to the region’s food needs. This was made possible due to the partnership between public, for-profit, non-profit and university institutions.”

The companies associated with Assolombarda which are involved in the project have participated through their canteens by donating surplus food, thus helping to reduce waste. In addition, large-scale retailers provide different types of food on a daily basis which passes through the Hub and is redistributed to the various parties; eleven supermarkets and five company canteens are part of the initiative.

Assolombarda General Manager Alessandro Scarabelli said: “The ‘stronger together’ approach is key to the success of the via Borsieri district Hub and the opening of the new District 3 Hub. A goal that we are proud of, one which was made possible due to the contributions of our companies, which played an active role in reducing food waste and promoting an effective and replicable model. The results of the initiative encourage us to bolster our commitment to this issue, with the aim of spreading good practices and a culture of waste reduction for a greater degree of sustainability and responsibility throughout the region.”

In 2020, the next important innovation to come is the opening of an additional Hub in District 3, in the Lambrate area. This will involve the participation of AVIS Milano (a Blood Donors Association) and Banca di Credito Cooperativo (BCC), the winner of the recent public call for tender announced by the City of Milan to collect the necessary resources to set up new Hubs across the city.

BCC President Giuseppe Maino said: “We are aware of the urgent need to strengthen this network throughout Milan, so that it is capable of fighting food poverty and waste. We decided to support the project, because we share its objectives and values. We are proud of our members who decided to donate an amount equivalent to their usual Christmas bonus from the bank to the Hub construction project. We have long been committed to developing a positive-action network with the Metropolitan City’s most important associations and institutions to support and strengthen these regional efforts.”

Avis Milano General Manager Sergio Casartelli said: “Avis Milano submitted its application for the District Hubs’ call for tender because it is in line with our objectives. We will contribute to this important project for the city by providing our spaces in District 3, and join the network of players involved in the fight against food waste in Milan.”