Barilla buckles after gay protests

  • Written by 
  • Published in Food
  •   
Featured Barilla buckles after gay protests

Italian Barilla will devote itself to diversity, hoping to put a period full of turmoil in the past. The world’s largest pasta producer had received a lot of resistance from the entire gay community after Chairman Guido Barilla's offensive remarks.

Inappropriate comments lead to boycott

"Our family is a traditional family. You cannot please everyone. I never want advertisements with a gay couple in them. That is not because I don’t respect gay people: they have the right to do what they want, as long as they do not bother other people. But I do not agree with them and we wish to talk to traditional families. That makes women crucial.” With these statements, Guido Barilla, the 55-year-old chairman for Barilla, lit the fuse of the argument.

 

The fuse quickly resulted in a worldwide blaze, as several interest groups asked to boycott Barilla and the other brands belonging to the food corporation. Social media helped spread the information, especially in the United States, the second largest market for the Italian food company.

 

First apologies, now actual steps

It became so tumultuous that the founder’s great-grandson quickly apologized: “I [apologize] if my words generated misunderstandings or controversy or if they hurt some people’s feelings. In the interview I just wanted to underline the centrality of the woman’s role in the family.”

 

Barilla has announced it is commited to support more diversity, not only in its advertising, but also in its company structure and personnel. Not only traditional families will be featured in Barilla’s future advertisements, but they will also feature the handicapped former F1 pilot and Paralympic hand biker Alex Zanardi and American gay rights activist David Mixner.

 

The company will be creating a Diversity and Inclusion Board and adding a ‘global diversity officer’ to put and keep the company on the right track. To prove it is serious, Barilla has demanded to be screened based on the principles of the Corporate Equality Index, a Human Rights Campaign initiative. This initiative reports on the diversity found in the workplace.


Talks with gay community

These steps were taken after Guido Barilla had spent the past few weeks talking to gay people and interest groups in Italy and the United States. “These meetings have helped us open our eyes to what is happening in the world outside of Parma and Italy”, says spokesperson Luca Virginio.

 

Certain sources indicate that the boycott led to Barilla losing 10 % of its turnover, a number the company neither confirms nor denies. It is undeniable that the pasta maker has been in a downward spiral due to the Italian recession, with its last year’s net profit dropping more than 21 % to 60 million euro. It is mainly depending on the United States to recover, meaning this turmoil was not really helping the company reach that goal.

 

 

(Translated by Gary Peeters)


Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact the editors
AB InBev cannot live up to expectations

AB InBev cannot live up to expectations

30/07/2015

Beer group AB InBev has under-performed across the board in the second quarter, below what analysts had expected. Most of that comes from last year's extremely high level, thanks to...

United States helps Delhaize grow

United States helps Delhaize grow

30/07/2015

Delhaize Group experienced a 3.2 % second quarter turnover growth, mainly thanks to the United States and Southern Europe. Belgian turnover dropped 0.6 %.

Lavazza acquires biggest French coffee label, Carte Noire

Lavazza acquires biggest French coffee label, Carte Noire

24/07/2015

After several months of negotiations, the world's seventh largest coffee maker Lavazza has acquired France's biggest coffee label Carte Noire for some 800 million euro.

Bonduelle wants to acquire competitor Green Giant

Bonduelle wants to acquire competitor Green Giant

23/07/2015

French Bonduelle, which sells frozen and canned vegetables, wants to acquire its American competitor Green Giant. The move is meant to strengthen the French company's position in North America.

Higher prices result in profit for Coca-Cola

Higher prices result in profit for Coca-Cola

22/07/2015

Soda manufacturer Coca-Cola's second quarter net profit grew 20 % compared to last year, thanks to higher prices and cost-cutting measures.

Kaiser's Tengelmann will buy potatoes, fruit and vegetables through Edeka

Kaiser's Tengelmann will buy potatoes, fruit and vegetables through Edeka

22/07/2015

From 1 August onward, Kaiser's Tengelmann will buy fruit and vegetables through Edeka, which is one way for both supermarket organizations to circumvent the Bundeskartellamt's ban on Edeka's intended acquisition...

Suppliers struggle because of British competition war

Suppliers struggle because of British competition war

20/07/2015

Many small and average-sized suppliers to British supermarkets are in financial trouble as those retailers pay increasingly competitive prices and increase payment periods as a result of the ever-enduring price...

Lower sales for Palm

Lower sales for Palm

20/07/2015

Belgian beer brewery Palm has not kept its promise to finish 2014 strongly, as lower beer consumption dipped the company into a 1.3 million euro loss. Nevertheless, the brewery is...

Mars invests a lot in Dutch factory

Mars invests a lot in Dutch factory

20/07/2015

American snack manufacturer Mars will invest a lot into its Veghel factory in the next few years, with Dutch investments reaching beyond 100 million euro.

Duvel Moortgat acquires another American brewery

Duvel Moortgat acquires another American brewery

17/07/2015

Belgian brewery Duvel Moortgat is to acquire a third American "craft brewery", the Firestone Walker Brewing Company from Paso Robles, California.

Carrefour does not need the Belgian national football team

Carrefour does not need the Belgian national football team

16/07/2015

Carrefour Belgium has managed a 1 % like-for-like turnover increase in the first 6 months of 2015 when compared to that same period in 2014. Particularly its first quarter was...

Sligro wants to conquer Belgium

Sligro wants to conquer Belgium

16/07/2015

The Dutch Sligro Food Group announced this morning, at the reveal of its 6-month results, it wants to cross the border into Belgium. It also has quite lofty ambitions: to...