Four prosciuttos. Seven balsamic vinegars, including a remarkable crema di balsamico. Eleven olive oils. It is tasting time at Bosa Foods, with company president Bruno Benedet. His enthusiasm for his work is palpable well before we sit down to this educational and edifying taste experience. In the warehouse earlier that day, he examines an entire wall stacked floor-to-50-foot ceiling with packages of arborio rice. “We had a shipment arrive yesterday,” he says. And how long will this supply last? He smiles, and says, “Three to four weeks, maximum.” It is a bit staggering to think that this volume of a specialty product moves through the Bosa system, from wholesale to retail. But that is simply one example of how well run and successful this company—a Vancouver icon—is.
Benedet explains, “At first, we were an Italian company, with only Italian products. Now, it is more of a Mediterranean Basin product line, and we can respond to customer demand much better.” The company began by sourcing Italian products that were not readily available in Canada. It has now grown to include over 7,000 products, such as the Italissima line of products, which accounts for roughly 1,500 of them. Still, Augusto Bosa’s original idea, born 53 years ago, is intact: find specialty foods with a potentially wider appeal, import them, and sell them, but also act as a wholesaler for other retailers to sell. And above all, “We continue to honour Augusto’s notion that we must bring the best price and value to our customers.”
The Victoria Drive location, the original, is still a humming place; the new store, says Benedet, “we worked on for 10 to 12 years, to get it right.” The grape juice, imported in cold tanks and ready to be fermented into wine in untold numbers of basements around the Lower Mainland, is selling in greater volumes than ever, and in fact the new storage facilities mean Bosa can keep juice fresh pretty much all year round. “People travel, and are much more knowledgeable now, and recognize quality. So product development, and even packaging, are probably the most important part of the job now. And I find it very enjoyable.” As we taste the prosciuttos and house-made salamis, and work on through to the olive oil called Augusto, made from pitted olives, it is abundantly clear that Bruno Benedet and everyone at Bosa Foods is completely at the top of their tasty game.