Luzio Crastan: the brilliant intuition and foresight of the Founder
rastan’s fascinating story accompanies us, discreetly, from the dawn of the unification of Italy to the present day. It was 1870 when Luzio Crastan, a witty and brave entrepreneur, had the intuition to offer Italians a valid and qualitative alternative to coffee, which was burdened with heavy import duties that made it too expensive, prohibitive even for the average family of the time.
In Pontedera, in the province of Pisa, in the heart of industrious Tuscany, Luzio, a distinguished gentleman of Swiss origins but settled in Italy since 1833, set up a cutting-edge laboratory for the creation of a tasty chicory-based drink, with an original taste and with an unmistakable aroma: for many Italians, it soon became an alternative to coffee.
The entrepreneurial drive of his sons Felice, Niccolo and Guglielmo
At the beginning of the 20th century, the business passed to Felice, Niccolo and Guglielmo, the three sons of the Founder. This generation was characterised by a further entrepreneurial drive, due to the times, and Crastan expanded its range of toasted products, permanently entering our grandparents’ homes. The posters of the Caffeol, Olandese Fago and Moretto products, which today we would define as successful brands, still convey a unique grace and communicative ability. The terminology of those years says “the best coffee substitute”.
Barley: the new flagship product in the 1960s
In 1960, confirming its ability to think ahead of his time and sensing the new tastes of an Italy characterised by an economic boom, Crastan replaced chicory with barley, a cereal which, once toasted, releases an unmistakable aroma and has a characteristic, simple and genuine flavour. Barley is good, healthy and particularly suitable for children. Orzo Pupo Crastan, launched in 1968, has been the joy of breakfast - and not only - for Italian families for decades.
With Gianfranco and Alberto, the transition to organic
The DNA of the Crastan family has, as distinctive traits, innovation and the continuous search for High Quality. Therefore, in 1982, with Gianfranco as president and his son Alberto already operational, the company installed its first Spray-Drying solubilisation tower - now there are two -, thanks to which it launched a series of new soluble products. In the 1980s, Crastan, as a private label producer, became an important partner of the major large-scale retail brands and doubled its volumes. The presence on foreign markets in those years became significant: a lot of Europe, the United States of America, Canada and Australia.
“Thinking ahead of his time, in 1991, Crastan entered the organic sector, paying attention, at a time when no one was doing it yet, to the environment and products “as made by Mother Nature”
— Crastan —
Crastan was the first company to subject itself to the Bioagricert control regime for the organic production method, so much so that it could boast the ‘Operator Code number 1’ on the relevant certificate. In recent years, the product range has been expanded. Barley&Coffee, Instant Cappuccino and Ginseng-based products arrived on supermarkets’ shelves. Among the latest creations, with an evocative name that takes us back to the early days of the company, we must mention our Organic Chicory Coffee.
In the 90s, the diversification of production
In the last decade of the last century, Crastan began a transformation process that led to a notable expansion of its product range, always maintaining the original activity of high quality coffee substitutes as its main activity. To these, completely different products were gradually added such as sodium bicarbonate, instant cocoa preparations, instant coffee, mashed potato flakes, effervescent granules, soy lecithin, teas and infusions.
The production plants
In 1996, the second Crastan factory was inaugurated in Fornacette di Calcinaia, in the province of Pisa, where part of the production was decentralised. The historic structure of Pontedera was in the heart of the city and could not be expanded. Five years later, in 2001, the new factory, the current one, was built in the industrial area of Gello, Pontedera (Pisa), equipped with the most advanced technologies for the production of instant toasted cereals, including a second solubilisation tower with a capacity of 10,000 kg per day.
Attention to the environment and the pursuit of High Quality
High quality raw material, strict and continuous controls, tested production process and a commitment to respect the environment: these are the distinctive features of Crastan, one of the few companies that produces within its own factory, with 16 fully automated lines, all its polylaminate cardboard containers. This choice, over the years, has guaranteed enormous savings in C02 because no heavy vehicles were used to transport the packs. In the Crastan laboratories, an average of 10 thousand checks are carried out every year on the raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products to guarantee its High Quality.
Cereals grown only on Italian fields
The choice of Made in Italy has characterised Crastan since its foundation. A clear choice, without hesitation. Even today, all the cereals used in the two production plants come from Italian fields and there are no chemical and synthetic additions. Crastan is 100% Made in Italy, the only Italian producer of instant barley as well as the largest Italian company producing instant coffee substitutes.
Crastan and the Prontofoods group
In 2019, Crastan became part of the large Brescia-based Prontofoods Group. The experience, even at international level, of the two entreprises will allow the development of important synergies for further growth of the brand and the Crastan company which, as always so far, has been able to read the times and move accordingly.