A Spotlight On: Just Gourmet Foods

06 September 2023, 10:00 AM
  • Building relationships with small, family-run businesses crafting authentic, irresistible products is key to the success of the Italian food specialist
A Spotlight On: Just Gourmet Foods

The word ‘warehouse’ doesn’t exactly spark the imagination, does it? For most, it conjures an image of a soulless expanse of shelving, stacked with boxes of thousands of items plucked from a vast catalogue.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Someone who knows this only too well is Gianfranco Perri, founder of Just Gourmet Foods.

Gianfranco launched the business, on the cusp of turning 40, following a 15-year career in foodservice and food retail. Having started in a back room at his home in 2018, Just Gourmet Foods took off at a rate of knots – today spanning a 4,000sqft warehouse and office, and with seven members of staff on board.

The businessman and food lover had noticed a niche in the industry. “There are various Italian wholesalers across the country who historically supply Italian restaurants and traditional Italian delis,” he says. “But I saw a gap in the market. The fact there was no wholesaler specialising in premium Italian brands.”

Just Gourmet Foods takes sourcing seriously. Gianfranco only works with very carefully chosen, family-run businesses, selected from Italy’s vastly different regions. Through these 20 or more brands, he is able to bring to the UK an expression of the fascinating, changing landscapes of the country. Gianfranco’s mission is to demonstrate that Italian food isn’t one-size-fits-all. There’s a tapestry of flavours and ingredients to explore, from the heady chilli heat and fragrant bergamot of the south, via the fishing ports of Campania, to the rice growing regions of the north.

Many of the suppliers Just Gourmet Foods works with have never had a presence in the UK before. “Our criteria is that they are smaller artisans, with fantastic products, and attractive packaging.” 

Gianfranco dedicates a lot of time to sourcing, visiting trade shows in Italy, and forming strong working relationships with producers, even helping them navigate export legislation and paperwork in the face of new rules following Brexit.

These relationships are crucial. As are the conversations struck up with Just Gourmet Foods’ customers, who will find the team offers some of the best service in the industry, where they’re a name, not just a number.

“We import the products, taking away the headache for retailers,” explains Gianfranco. “We handle all of the transport of goods to the UK, and we can deliver anywhere in the country on our vehicles, or via the pallet network.”

Just Gourmet Foods’ customer base reaches beyond traditional Italian delis, with customers across the independent retail sector, from farm shops, delis and cheesemongers, to food halls such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

“We pride ourselves on personal service. We do a significant amount of private label work, and if a customer wants something specific, we can source it for them because we know our producers and what they can do. Having access to that network means anything is possible,” says Gianfranco.

The breadth of Just Gourmet Foods’ stock is extensive. From single origin olives oils and the finest balsamic vinegars, to egg and durum wheat pasta, biscuits, sweet treats, organic honey, nougat and grissini. 

Orders are currently being fulfilled for Christmas, from a brochure that includes a dizzying array of gorgeous foods, many of them ideal for gifting - decadent chocolate-dipped figs and mandarins, Calabrian Christmas cakes, and one of the largest selections of panettone available to UK retailers. Get in touch now to enquire about surplus stock.

Gianfranco says he’s delighted with the progress Just Gourmet Foods has made in just five years. He’s looking forward to growing further. Organically, and in a way that continues to support Italy’s wonderful makers, while giving the UK’s fine food retailers access to extraordinary products that will surprise and delight their customers.

“It’s been rewarding to see the business grow. It gives me a great sense of pride.”

Meet the suppliers

Just Gourmet Foods will be at the Speciality Fine Food Fair this month with its biggest display ever, featuring six key suppliers, sharing their passion and stories.

Meet Italianavera, producer of some of the ripest, most vibrant tomatoes in San Marzano. They’ll be encouraging buyers to look beyond what they know about tinned tomatoes with their stunning range, which includes single varietals, from yellow to Spunzillo.

Organic farmers Bio Orto will join Just Gourmet Foods too. “Their main business is fruit and vegetables, but they more recently started making olive oils and pasta sauces, and some antipasti products,” says Gianfranco. “It’s a fantastic range with beautifully simple packaging.” 

Olive oil is big business in Italy, but it’s well acknowledged that finding supreme quality can be challenging. Just Gourmet Foods works with a handful of producers who take oil seriously. 

At the show, sample oils from Tenute Cristiano, whose farmers grow single origin varieties. The company was chosen by Gianfranco as a ‘love letter’ to his family homeland of Calabria. “That’s the romance behind this brand,” he explains. “And Calabrian oil isn’t very common. This is the real deal.”

Also in attendance will be Frantoio Muraglia, which, as well as producing a weighty 1.5lt option, and intriguing flavoured oils (from celery to smoked), has, says Gianfranco, revolutionised the design of the olive oil bottle. “People love them because they make a great gift and look good in the kitchen. But, also, more importantly, the oil inside is delicious!”

Completing the show line-up is artisan rice producer Gli Aironi, and Armatore, which supplies Just Gourmet Foods with traceable jarred fish, caught off the wildly beautiful Amalfi Coast. Gianfranco’s sure not many buyers will have tried their anchovy extract before.


Get in touch

Discover more from Just Gourmet Foods, visit their website and connect today

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