Specchiasol: medicinal plants and the herbalist’s tradition combine with technology and innovation

Specchiasol: medicinal plants and the herbalist’s tradition combine with technology and innovation

Giuseppe Maria Ricchiuto's interview on The Made In Italy Official Portal.

Specchiasol: medicinal plants and the herbalist’s tradition combine with technology and innovation

A combination of the herbalist’s traditions, scientific research and modern technology: this is the philosophy of the Specchiasol Group, which has made a major contribution to the increasing popularity of phytotherapy and natural medicine over the last forty years. 

With 130 employees, a turnover of €28 million at group level in 2013 (of which 17% came from exports), and 10 million items sold in a year, Specchiasol has now become a reference point in the field of natural wellness. It has produced and sold a range of over 750 products to date, including medicinal herbs, essential oils, oligo elements, vitamins, hydro-alcoholic solutions from fresh plants and gemmo derivatives, food supplements and cosmetics. The raw materials are sourced from the Group’s two organic farms, one at Specchia, and the other at Ferrara di Monte Baldo in the province of Verona. We asked the president and founder of the group, Giuseppe Maria Ricchiuto, to describe the particular strengths of Specchiasol and outline its future strategies. 

How did the Specchiasol Group come into being? 
The story of Specchiasol began in 1973, when I first encountered the world of natural medicine by setting up as a sole trader selling herbalist products wholesale. Over the years, Specchiasol grew at an exponential pace, making a huge contribution to the success of phytotherapy. 
Nowadays, Specchiasol is a leading company in the production of phytoderivatives and cosmetics, and employs a total of 130 people. The Group distributes its products in most parts of the world and is regarded at an international level as a prime reference point in the field of natural wellness. 

What do you believe are the company’s strengths in terms of Italian-made quality and innovation? 
Specchiasol is one of the few phytotherapy and cosmetic companies in Italy to control the whole production chain from seed to product. This is thanks to our own farms – one at Specchia, in the province of Lecce, and the other at Ferrara di Monte Baldo, in the province of Verona – and also to our ultra-modern laboratories, manned by highly skilled professionals. Our strengths lie in our thorough research and in our choice of the best materials available on the market, in the high level of our scientific experimentation and our capacity to innovate. We are constantly looking for new products to satisfy, and also very often to anticipate, the demands of our clients. 

Your production is firmly based in Italy, with an export quota close to 20%. What is your approach with regard to the international markets? 
We have a great belief in the value of international markets, precisely because we believe in the quality of Italian production. This is why we have put a considerable focus on exports in recent years. Nowadays, Specchiasol distributes its products all over the world, from the Arab and Asian states to the emerging nations. 

Which markets are you most interested in? 
At the moment, our attention is focused on Russia, Poland and Turkey: very interesting markets which we think will prove strategic for our future. 

How have you braved the economic crisis? 
We are currently going through a period of evolution which requires a certain adjustment on our part. The change might seem to represent a threat, but it is also an opportunity, allowing us to improve and to set new objectives. We have faced up to this challenge by banking on the future: we have tried to improve our client services by providing new support systems, but we have also invested in new means of communication – from our internet site to social networks – and have introduced innovative new products to the market. 

Which products are you focusing on particularly at the moment? 
We are continuing to focus on our classic products, but also on innovative new products which we are launching on the market. Tradition and innovation are our key points. Over the course of these 40 years, we have achieved some important goals. Indeed, Specchiasol was the first company to introduce propolis into Italy, taking out an exclusive patent for the de-waxing and purification process: E.P.I.D. (De-waxed Water-dispersible Propolis Extract) is a line of which we continue to place considerable focus. Then, we are concentrating on the new products launched this year, such as our novel Verattiva Sole line, and particularly on our innovative Snell Balance plan. This brings together two products – Phisio Balance and Peso Balance – to help achieve a balanced body weight and to contribute to general well-being, first acting to restore the correct acid-base balance and then working on the metabolism: a combination which is completely new to the Italian market. 

What percentage of your turnover goes towards R&D? 
We set aside 5% of our turnover for research and development.