Saturday, 22nd October in Reggio Emilia, CIRFOOD DISTRICT was inaugurated. This innovation and research centre sets out to design and test new solutions capable of generating value for the community and well-being for present and future consumers, with the aim of meeting the nutritional and catering needs of the future.

At a time in history marked by major changes regarding the demands of collective catering services and eating habits in schools, businesses, and social healthcare facilities, CIRFOOD has decided to open a people-oriented innovation centre in the heart of the Food Valley, CIRFOOD DISTRICT, which focuses on bringing about a positive change in society, making it more sustainable and inclusive, through technological solutions and digital systems .

Along with Chiara Nasi, President of CIRFOOD, the ribbon-cutting ceremony and inauguration event was attended by Stefano Bonaccini, President of the Emilia-Romagna Region, Luca Vecchi, Mayor of Reggio Emilia, Paolo De Castro, MEP, and Ferruccio Resta, CRUI President of CRUI (Conference of Italian University Rectors), Rector of the Milan Polytechnic. Invited as protagonists of the on-going dialogue on food, innovation and culture, they came together to speak of more sustainability and accessibility in the field of nutrition and catering.During the panel discussion, which was led by journalist Roberto Arditti, the Hon. Maurizio Lupi stressed the social value of the collective catering sector for Italian families and expressed his appreciation and admiration for the  decision to inaugurate an innovative district set up with the aim of reviving the food industry after the difficulties faced over the past few years due to the effects of the pandemic.

“We are very proud and happy to finally open the doors of our CIRFOOD DISTRICT to the whole community and the country: a centre in which partners, schools, institutions, start-ups, companies and universities will be able to make a concrete contribution to envisioning the catering of the future and designing solutions that will increase the well-being of people and the Planet itself,” commented Chiara Nasi, CIRFOOD President. “Despite the fact that the last 3 years have particularly affected our budgets, what with the pandemic and price increases, we have never stopped investing in innovation, because we feel the responsibility our work entails and the enormous value of the services we offer, such as: public health, accessibility to quality food, environmental and economic sustainability of the food supply chain, employment – particularly for women – and welfare. The CIRFOOD DISTRICT, home of co-innovation, will be a place in which we can work together to improve the society we live in”.

“We are known as the world’s Food Valley for a reason,” said President Stefano Bonaccini. “It is not only because of the extraordinary quality of the products made in this region, but also thanks to the innate vocation of entrepreneurs and cooperators who believe innovation and research are the engines of industrial and social development. And who put work first. Today we have further proof of this: CIRFOOD DISTRICT represents the determination, typical of Emilia-Romagna, not to resist change, but rather, to harness and use it, often anticipating it altogether. Without fear of the future:  on the contrary, with the desire to build the future, day by day. The food sector is one of the pillars of the regional economy thanks to leading global supply chains. As the Regional Government, we remain committed to supporting those who can combine quality and innovation, as in this case. Not forgetting the fact that in a time of crisis such as the one we are experiencing, collective catering has an even greater strategic value and represents an element of social stability.”

The inauguration was an opportunity to present also the Scientific Committee, the team of experts, and influential voices who, together with the CIRFOOD DISTRICT Observatory, will be responsible for seeing that the projects of the research centre produce new solutions and partnerships. The Scientific Committee includes: Marco Frey, Full Professor of Economics and Business Management and director of the Sustainability Research Group (SuM) at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa; Guendalina Graffigna, Full Professor of Consumer Health Psychology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Piacenza and director of the EngageMinds HUB research centre; Luigina Mortari, Full Professor of General and Social Pedagogy in the Department of Human Sciences at the University of Verona, former chair of the board of directors of Indire at MIUR; Andrea Pezzana, Specialist Doctor specializing in Food Science, director of the clinical nutrition facility of the ASL City of Turin and lecturer at the University of Turin.

“I am enthusiastic about the arrival of CIRFOOD DISTRICT, a new and essential force in the city dedicated to research and innovation in the fields of nutrition and food service,” saysthe Mayor of Reggio Emilia, Luca Vecchi. “The choice made by CIRFOOD, a cooperative and one of the companies in Reggio Emilia that operate globally, is entirely consistent with the DNA of a city that, as part of the  Emilia-Romagna Food Valley,  has always taken a particular interest in these values , starting from preschools and kindergartens”.

The CIRFOOD DISTRICT is a unique space, one of the few in Italy and Europe with an integrated gastronomic research system (consisting of a Sensory Laboratory, Kitchen, and Experimental Restaurant), created in collaboration with the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo. A participatory platform, open to all those who want to co-innovate and cooperate with CIRFOOD on applied research projects, through ad-hoc initiatives aimed at institutions and companies, events and experiences with universities and schools to learn about and explore the new frontiers of nutrition and the needs of society.“Taste the Future” will be the philosophy behind every activity and space in the building. The structure, designed by Iotti + Pavarani Architetti and Studio LSA, is multifunctional, sustainable and innovative,  allowing simulations of different catering environments where it is possible to study and observe consumer behaviour, carry out training, create recipes, cooking techniques, and new packaging ideas, allow companies to test advanced solutions for lunch breaks, and share food culture with schools.