The Naturasì project started about 30 years ago with the opening of an organic food shop. The founders aimed to give people healthy and good quality seasonal food while also promoting local agriculture. Today the group counts more than 500 stores which follow the same philosophy. Naturasì believes “organic” means taking care of the environment and all those who live in it, nobody excluded. That’s why they teamed up with Teamwork Hospitality to create a comprehensive sustainable system, including local producers, local shops and local distribution points.
Their aim is to respect nature but also to create a fair and transparent economic system with fair prices for consumers. This passion for health and sustainability lead them to their new project: Ospitalità Natura, a network of restaurants and hotels along with a booking platform to cater for people wanting to choose a more sustainable way to travel. Here Greta talks to Diego Mori, the project manager for “Eat and Sleep with Naturasì”, to find out more about their philosophy, what this new network is about and why sustainability can be an advantage in a time of global pandemic.
Greta: Why did you decide to expand Naturasì into the hospitality and catering sectors?
Diego Mori from Naturasì: We believe the “organic cycle” is now strong in households but that this is not always the case when we eat or sleep elsewhere. We think the people who care about sustainability at home will be glad to find valuable options when they go on holidays or travel for work. It is important to have options available that reflect our philosophy. Today we have about 2 million clients for Italy alone who can access our shops, agricultural holdings and the 200 restaurants and 100 hotels who already belong to our network.
Greta: I see that you have lots of other things going on, including educational projects. Can you tell us more about these?
Diego Mori from Naturasì: Yes, these projects help us fully express our philosophy. We organised an educational project with Pietro Lema, a vegetarian chef, who aims to raise awareness about the benefits of organic products, their seasonality, how the flavour is different and so on. We’re also working with hospitality and catering colleges to raise awareness about the topic of food waste. On top of this there’s Viandantisì, a sustainable travel agency which offers trips to our farms and other sustainable trips.
Greta: And what is your next project about? Why are you not aiming to be an eco-label?
Diego Mori from Naturasì: We teamed up with Teamwork, a hospitality consulting company, and “Ospitalità Natura” was born. We want to create a network of accommodations and position them on a sustainable booking platform. Many eco-labels are just meant to check some parameters and select who can get certified and who can’t, however this is often complicated and selective. The idea is to create an open and inclusive network in order to guide hotels and restaurants on their path towards becoming more sustainable. We want to create a virtuous cycle and grow the number of stakeholders in order to multiply the positive impact.
Greta: What are the main challenges you’re facing and why do you think this project is relevant?
Diego Mori from Naturasì: COVID-19 slowed us down, especially in our educational projects (which we plan to start again in 2022). We’re now working on bigger sustainable packages aimed at restaurants and hotels and we’re trying to raise awareness of food quality and provenance. Unfortunately, some companies are still only interested in price. In Italy the project is very relevant, and we’d also like to expand to other countries in the future. People will be healthier if they eat organic and this agricultural system is much better for the soil too.
Greta: Sustainability and COVID: do you think this way of branding hotels and restaurants could be an advantage in this time of global pandemic?
Diego Mori from Naturasì: It’s an advantage for sure. We’ve received many requests from people who want to rebrand their hotel or restaurant. It’s a chance to reposition and transmit a more genuine concept to clients. People want to eat healthier and live better; they’re willing to pay a bit more for it so in the end hotels and restaurants can sustain the costs of higher quality products. Especially during these times of COVID, you need to level up the quality level of the service or product you offer and in the end, this will benefit business and the planet.