We asked Operations Director of Isola Imports Micheal Nitti about Italian food trend in Chicago and USA and how the authenticity of the products is making the market growing.

The year was 1957 and John Nitti, an Italian immigrant, was determined to realize his American dream. He opened the doors of his Italian grocery store, Nitti Foods, to Chicago customers. It was a modest storefront to be sure. But from small things great things often come…and they did! The shop gave John a chance to share a little taste of Italy with his family, friends and neighbors.

Word spread quickly about Nitti and his wonderful store as customers clamored for more. More Italian foods and delectable. Gourmet products lovingly made by Italian hands. Products that had a history and a culture. This procurement of the best that Italy had to offer – this is what became John Nitti’s mission. So John and his wife moved back to Italy, traversing its diverse regions – from Sicily to Venice and from Rome to Napoli. Fast forward thirty years and the Nitti’s hard work was finally rewarded with a new import and distribution business that would bring the richness of Italy’s regions to the Chicagoland area. But a new company deserved a new name and, in 1992, Isola Imports was born.

isola bellavitaWhy Isola Imports? Isola means “island” and each region of Italy has its own identity with distinctive flavors and products. Inspired by Italy’s rich diversity, the Nitti’s embarked on a journey of discovery to seek out artisan specialty items that would distinguish Isola – products that would become Isola’s trademark. Today, the family tradition continues with John’s three children – Jay, Lisa, and Michael – who work hard to continue the Nitti tradition of procuring only the freshest, most authentic Italian foods and bringing them to dinner tables across Chicago and beyond.

How has the demand for Italian food grown over the years in both Illinois and US? If there is one attribute about Italian Cuisine is that it is sought out by the world.  Very understandable and very much enjoyed.  As we have seen much growth over the years, it becomes incredibly challenging due to so many more distributors getting into the Specialty Italian segment.  We still continue to maintain our better positioning of Authentic Italian product and not the commodities or products that sound Italian.  Our Authenticity and relationships with Italy is what makes us unique and special.  This is the core of what our mission is.

What matters the most when you look for a new product? What matters most is uniqueness, authenticity, taste, packaging, and logistics.  Further to this does the company with this new product understand the workings of the US and the market in regards to efficient communication, sampling, length of time to get a product to market and the marketing efforts to support a NEW launch.

What are the advantages for an Italian company in exhibiting within a tailor made show like Bellavita at NRA Show? The layout and the overall feeling of entering into this Italian section is strong.  Much better positioned than what we have been part of at other show’s that have Italian sections.  So if a merchant is looking for Italian they do know where to go with this presence.

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