Client: Barilla

Our Big Barilla Story

Giving Barilla a clear picture of where to play and how to win in different consumer kitchens around the world.


Barilla has come a long way since its roots as a small family bakery in Italy 140 years ago. Now a €3bn global business, the company was ready to start considering major long-term investments in its production capabilities, but its R&D team wasn't sure where to invest next.

What we did

We began by working with Barilla to uncover strategic opportunities for bakery and meal solutions. We studied cutting-edge developments in food technology and long-term trends in consumer behaviour and demographics, such as the growth of the middle classes in many countries, and the rise of mega-cities. We then took a close look at Barilla’s existing capabilities to ensure they could introduce new innovations.

This allowed us to provide Barilla with a 10-year pipeline identifying four potential “big bets” and 25 enablers that would be required for each of them. In short it gave Barilla a clear picture of where to play, and how to win.

We also provided Barilla with eight innovation “platforms” – areas of potential for product innovation. Within these we highlighted the technologies that Barilla would need to acquire to succeed, alongside an idea of what the potential new products would look like.


Thanks to Happen, Barilla is ready for the future, and has the visibility and insight it needs to shape its long-term strategy. The innovation platforms we created have already brought to market more than 50 new products globally, including multi grain pastas in Italy to the “Pronto” range in America, a pasta that cooks in a pan in just three minutes. Happen’s work is shaping Barilla’s short and long-term success, and the company has already engaged with us for a further project looking at the future of sustainability.

Food Innovation


We all found working with Happen very pleasant and fruitful. They were able to mix two key ingredients, which are important when a company is designing its future: vision and a pragmatic sense of getting things done. The final recipe tasted of profitable success!

Rosamaria Petrosino

RD&Q Strategy, Portfolio Management & Education Director.


Industry FMCG

Happen's perspective

Our work with Barilla required us to understand cooking and eating habits in different countries around the world, and the importance of trends such as health-conscious consumers and gluten-free. The innovation platforms we developed offered a starting point for hundreds of potential new products and it’s great to see so many of them come into fruition and on the shelves!

Our People