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Il Secolo XIX | August 21, 2023
The Patagonia model has a precedent. Shortly before Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric climber turned billionaire, sold his mountain clothing company valued at around $3 billion in September 2022 to a trust and an organization created to preserve its independence and ensure that all profits, approximately $100 million a year, were used to combat global warming, someone else in Italy had a similar idea. Pier Giovanni Capellino, founder of the dog and cat food company Almo Nature, together with his brother Lorenzo, established the Capellino Foundation and, in 2019, gifted the company to allocate its proceeds to biodiversity projects.
Almo Nature is a lean company, without a factory, with its legal headquarters in the historic center of Genoa, and the production of food carried out by subcontractors. It reports a turnover of $109 million in 2022, of which 45% is in Italy and 55% abroad. The primary foreign market is Germany, with 100 employees worldwide, including professional agents "dedicated 100% to our company," they explain from the press office.
Capellino's commitments take him far away, and at the time of writing, the entrepreneur lets us know that he is "leaving for Africa," but takes care to send us a note summarizing his and his company's history and philosophy.
The model on which the Foundation is based is the "Reintegration Economy," a neologism that indicates that every year the revenues accrued by Almo Nature, "net of costs, taxes, and investments," go towards financing projects. "We have defined the lines along which to act and laid the groundwork for the initial projects. In Italy, in Florence, for example, we will experience the impact that the grafting of a micro-habitat, populated by plants and animals, can have on an urban environment. We will try to understand if it can help reduce phenomena such as global warming and pollution," writes Capellino. "It will be a scientific project; we are not certain about achieving results, but we want to study and attempt to find answers to these global problems."
At the origin of the Foundation, Capellino writes again, there was the need to find a way to provide continuity to the enterprise, not understood in terms of brand, but of transformation and impact on the environment.
"We humans are not masters of the planet; we are sitting on an atomic bomb; we are facing a situation that we do not control, a consequence of human action that impacts biodiversity. We reinvest the profit today in biodiversity." Capellino explains that the Foundation is at work "both in Italy and on a global scale—from a major re-naturalization project in Brazil that provides for the creation of an ecological corridor along the hydrographic basin of the Araguaia river to connect two of the most vital ecosystems in the world: the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado savannah, with the creation of ecological corridors in Europe and Africa." There the project involves a corridor that restores connectivity between the "forests of Magomberae Mwanihana... recently lost due to intensive agricultural activities" and "allows elephants to cross the valley."
The Foundation's model is "a case that has already set jurisprudence and which, since it is a unique case, had to wait a year and a half before the green light."
The story of the entrepreneur who chose Genoa as his headquarters tells us that "Pier Giovanni Capellino was born in 1954 in Savigliano, in the province of Cuneo, but grew up in Pinerolo, where he worked in his parents' grocery store. Subsequently, he emigrated to France, married in Dijon. For years 'the bed is a thin mattress,' but lays the foundations to intercept the economic fortune: in 1984 he earns a billion gross at the time. He returns to Italy, chance brings him to Genoa, and in 2018 he establishes the Foundation with his brother Lorenzo. Almo Nature produces HFC food, also a neologism coined by Capellino, which means the human food chain. It identifies high-quality ingredients, originally suitable for human consumption, and by Almo Nature's commercial choice, they are used for dog and cat food.
"The idea of pet food with ingredients originally suitable for human consumption came to me thanks to Salento, my first very intelligent dog," is the story of Pier Giovanni Capellino. "In 1999 I traveled the world to identify the right producer, which I found in Thailand when a giant like the Thai Union, which makes food products based on fish, such as canned tuna, accepted the challenge."