Barilla Spa - Executive Summary 2

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Executive Summary

Barilla SpA, an Italian pasta manufacturer, is experiencing amplified levels of inefficiencies and rising costs due to variability in demand from its distributors. In order to bring things back in order and to improve margins, Giorgio Magialli, the Director of Logistics at Barilla wants to implement a Just-In-Time Distribution (JITD) system that was proposed by his predecessor Brando Vitali. This system is entirely different from the existing setup and is being opposed by both the distributors and Barilla’s Sales and Marketing Department.

In this report we have studied the reasons for this opposition by various quarters and have suggested recommendations, which will allay this lack of support. We consider that in order to condense the Bullwhip effect being experienced by Barilla, their supply chain would have to be Centralized. We have given our rationale for the JITD system to work and have suggested recommendations to resolve all existing issues. We think that a centralized supply chain with Barilla controlling the orders will result in better margins for all the partners.

We believe that by following our recommendations, Barilla will succeed in influencing its distributors and Sales personnel to work together and implement the JITD program. This will not only result in better performance in terms of time and money but also promote trust and good relations among all the partners in the supply chain.


Barilla SpA, an Italy based company, is the world’s largest Pasta manufacturer. It has a 35% market share in Italy and a 22% market share in Europe. In addition to the family of pastas (macaroni, spaghetti, fusilli, etc.) it also manufactures bread, cookies, biscuits, rusks, sauces, breadsticks, etc. Barilla has a very complex distribution network consisting of Grand Distributors (owned by large Supermarket chains), Organized Distributors (independent third party distributors) in addition to its own depots. Due to such a complex and multi-echelon network, Barilla has been experiencing large amounts of variability in demand which are resulting in operational inefficiency and increased manufacturing, inventory and distribution costs.

Brando Vitali, Barilla’s ex-Director of Logistics, had proposed a Just-In-Time Distribution (JITD) system to counter this demand variation. This system required the distributors to share their sales data with Barilla, who would then forecast and deliver appropriate amounts of products to the distributors at the right time in order to effectively meet demand. This was a radical change from the current and more traditional supply-chain setup where the distributors were not sharing any data and could place orders at will. Vitali’s proposal came under severe criticism from not only the distributors but also Barilla’s own Sales and Marketing department for an array of reasons.

Giorgio Magialli, Barilla’s current Director of Logistics, is trying to implement this idea since two years but has not made much progress. Our objective in this report is to study the problems and come up with recommendations to resolve them.

Problem Description

We will attempt to first list all the problems that are faced by Barilla and the distributors so that we can better understand them in order to make recommendations that will eliminate them. The main problem in this case is the fluctuating demand. Once this is brought under control, many other problems will be solved. Some of the causes of this fluctuating demand are:

Promotions: Barilla’s sales strategy relied heavily on the use of promotions, in the form of price, transportation and volume discounts. They divided the year into 10 to 12 canvass or promotional periods, during which different products were offered at discounts. These price discounts ranged from 1.4% to 10%. Barilla’s volume discounts consisted of carton discounts offered by sales representatives and the transportation discounts consisted of...
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