Valerio Nucci, founder of GNA:

"Research and development are our pièce de résistance"

Ever since 1987, GNA's priority has been the creation of processing and packaging systems guaranteeing high technology, quality, hygiene, and safety levels. The company, located in the heart of the packaging valley in Emilia, near Bologna, and specializing in the design, manufacturing, and sale of packaging machines for the food and non-food sectors, was founded by Valerio Nucci. FreshPlaza talked to him to learn more about its history. 

Valerio Nucci, founder GNA

"The world was a different place when we started. We wanted to create automation and innovation and to make ourselves known on the market. Our activities were, therefore, mostly based on R&D. There were no particular needs when it came to packaging. Everything changed over the past ten years: people started talking about eco-friendly materials and new packaging, and our job has become much harder. To remain at the forefront, it is necessary to continue investing considerable sums in R&D. We are still in business only because we introduce new elements," explains Nucci. 

GNA is a medium-small business, still mostly family-run, that competes against 'giants.' "We fight with technologically-advanced innovations and solutions appreciated by the market, as we could not compete with the quantities. We have had to deal with quite a few difficulties over the past three-four years: the pandemic, the war, the exaggerated price hikes of raw materials, and the lack of electronic elements, just to name a few. The ongoing investments in R&D have represented our advantage in this difficult situation."

The Wrap Box

A huge machine fleet and almost yearly-introductions
"We specialize in packaging: although we are a medium-small business, we boast diversified models. Companies work with us because they know they can count on innovative solutions with a good price-quality ratio. We have been recently working with machines that employ sustainable and plastic-free materials, e.g., the Wrap Box, which uses the innovative paper+cotton net combo. These materials are difficult to process, but we managed it and are very proud, also because we believe we are the only ones to have done so in Italy." 

The only not-so-positive note, according to the founder, is the high cost of such materials, which not everyone can afford. "This aspect is more noticeable on the Italian market rather than abroad. At the moment, our Wrap Box is mostly sold in northern Europe, which is more open-minded."

A few packaging solutions obtained with GNA machines

Changes in packaging types for the fresh produce world 
"An evolution is under-way when it comes to the type of packaging required. Over the past few years, we have quickly switched from packaging with to that without containers due to waste disposal and sustainability matters. Baggers are therefore quickly becoming more and more popular and, in fact, we have introduced the AV550 horizontal flow pack packager with reels from the bottom for applications with film or paper and lose products." 

"In addition, the market requires high performance in terms of speed, aesthetics, and reliability. While our clients used to process a large quantity of one product, now there is more fragmentation, which implies diversification also in terms of packaging. Automation needs to adapt too, as changes in formats must be quick and pose no issues. Our work has been and continues to be significant. Repetitiveness has left space for ongoing innovation."

AV550 horizontal flow pack packager

Nucci underlines, however, how such necessary versatility comes at the expense of margins. "We machine producers would like the maximum standardization possible. Today, however, customization is the keyword to meet the requirements of every single client, as they need to stand out from the competition. It is not an easy process: we barely have the time to verify one project before we already need to start working on the next."  

Short-term perspectives
"The current market is a very difficult one, as it is saturated - at least when it comes to Western countries - and full of problems such as the higher production costs caused by the price hikes and inflation. In general, we can say the market is rather slow, but we are optimistic about the fact that we managed to keep up with a situation characterized by a lot of changes, and we are also starting to be fewer on the market. The pie has remained the same, but the slice for each company has increased/remained stable. This is what enables us to go on: it no longer makes sense to work with quantities, it is better to focus on quality and innovation and be careful when it comes to expenses."  

"We used to do less 20-25 years ago, but we were more supported. Now resources are lacking, unfortunately, so it is no surprise when I hear that the number of young entrepreneurs is lacking day after day." 

Massimiliano Nucci, Valerio Nucci, Gabriella Bolzoni, Carlo Iannuzzi and Loris Di Paolo from GNA at Macfrut 2023

"I took the responsibility of attending Macfrut after a 10-year break"
It was, in fact, the founder of GNA who wanted to attend the latest edition of Macfrut. "We last attended in 2012 for the 25th anniversary of the company. As the fair is becoming more international, I thought it was the right moment to take part once again. The current situation is characterized by instability, innovation, and a desire for redemption, so I strongly believe in the challenge of presenting the work we have been carrying out over the past few years." 

At Macfrut, GNA also brought an interactive display of the latest introductions - the Robinia and Octopus packaging machines.

For further information:
GNA s.r.l.
Via Progresso, 15 - z.i. Ponte Rizzoli
40064 Ozzano dell'Emilia (BO) - Italy
Tel.: +39 051 799226
Fax: +39 051 796962


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