Spaghetti westerns in the Abruzzese style. Filippo Antonio De Cecco’s film, premiering.

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Someone may have noticed a change in the narrative, in the De Cecco pasta commercials. Actress Claudia Gerini, until a few months ago, was extolling the careful selection of grains from Italy, Arizona and California. Now instead he refers to the ‘heart of the world’s best grains.’

Spaghetti western all’abruzzese‘ is the film directed by and starring Filippo Antonio De Cecco, regent-in-chief of the industrial group of the same name. Previewed below is the storyline that accompanies the pounding TV commercials.

Origin of wheat in De Cecco pasta, Antitrust investigation.

The Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza e il Mercato, AGCM), it will be recalled, had conducted an investigation against De Cecco, as well as Divella, Cav. Giuseppe Cocco, Margherita Distribuzione S.p.A (formerly Auchan S.p.A., ‘Passioni’ brand) and Lidl Italy. To assess the accuracy of the claims offered regarding the origin of wheat on pasta labels promoted as Made in Italy.

The AGCM, at its meeting on Dec. 20, 19, accepted the commitment of Filippo Antonio De Cecco, as president of F.lli De Cecco SpA, to change the front of its own brand pasta labels by:

– addition of information the ‘best Italian, Californian and Arizona grains‘,

– Removal of the image of the Italian flag and the words ‘De Cecco method‘. (see Appendices 1 and 2).

Wheat origin, Filippo Antonio De Cecco’s false promises to the Antitrust.

Antitrust officials trusted statements made by the chairman of an industrial group with more than 130 years of honored history. They therefore ordered the investigation against him to be closed, without entrusting the Guardia di Finanza with even a simple investigation into grain supplies to De Cecco (1,2). But the trust was misplaced.

Filippo Antonio De Cecco deliberately violated his commitments to the Guarantor Authority. As shown in the 31.1.20 invoice from supplier Cavac, as early as 2.10.19 the Abruzzi giant had contracted for the supply of 4,575 tons of French wheat, at a price of €309/ton, with a total value of €1.4 million. Order confirmed on 19.11.19 and reconfirmed on 30.1.20 (Attachments 3,4). Ideological forgery in a public act?

Falsification of grain origin and accounting

De Cecco’s purchasing director , Mario Aruffo, on 10.2.20, communicates Filippo Antonio De Cecco’s order to falsify the origin of wheat. ‘The President communicates that French wheat arriving in Ortona on 13.2.2020 is to be considered as Apulian wheat.’ Target audience Nicola Zanapa (head miller), Vincenzo Villani (quality control director), Eugenio Galliani (management control coordinator). For information Stefano D’Alessio (purchasing clerk), Angelo Di Falco (management control clerk) and presiding secretary (All. 5). The false purchase order in favor of Cavac for 4,575 tons of Apulian wheat is created on the system on 13.2.20 (All. 6).

De Cecco’s passive cycle procedure involves verification of supplier invoice, purchase order and goods entry. So how is it possible to pay a 1.4 million invoice for ‘French wheat(blé dur) against an order that states ‘Apulian wheat‘? The accounting record is false, in violation of the procedures and governance scheme provided under Leg. 231/01. The top management officials-Gildo Di Cecco (administrative director) and his deputy Nicola Secondo, as well as Hamleto Cianci, head of the supplier office-are, after all, listed as some of the people closest to Filippo Antonio De Cecco.

False origin, paper sings. Certified supply chain or trade fraud?

The French origin of the grain is confirmed in the transport documents (ddt) issued during the period 13-17.2.2020.
Departure port of Ortona, destination Fara San Martino, F.lli De Cecco di Filippo SpA. Goods transported, ‘Durum Wheat – French Durum Wheat Crop 2019‘ (All. 7). And it is here that the French wheat is transformed into Apulian, with attribution of the entry code 0710001 (which in the Fara San Martino plant identifies Apulian wheat), before loading into silos B and C
(Attachment 8).

DNV GL is one of the most important certification groups globally. It also provides its services to De Cecco, whose burden is on De Cecco to notify it of incoming foreign grain shipments. So that the diligent inspectors of the Scandinavian group-with solid experience in the maritime sector-can go to the port of discharge to verify the correctness of the transport operations, in view of the quality certification of the Made in Abruzzo pasta. But it appears unlikely that Regent Filippo Antonio De Cecco’s men alerted DNV to the French cargo under consideration. Investigators will easily be able to verify the subject matter of the passive invoices received in De Cecco from DNV in the first half of 2020.

Grain selection in the fields?

Advertising on De Cecco’s website magnifies the selection of wheat in the fields as a distinctive element of its pasta’s value. ‘Our experts select raw materials by touching the quality of Italian, Californian and Arizona hard grains. They do this while the harvest is still in the fields‘. False.

The fraudulent French wheat was a simple commodity, ‘crop 2019,’ with no distinguishing features, from the silos of supplier Cavac to those in Fara San Martino. But there is also more. The six invoices from a couple of suppliers, in Exhibit 9, show how De Cecco also purchases durum wheat semolina, without even knowing the origin of the wheat that generated that semolina.

‘Coarse’ grain semolina, certified quality?

Marketing of De Cecco pasta indulges on the ‘coarse-grained semolina‘, ‘quality instead of quantity (…) with a low milling yield‘, 65 kg of semolina from 100 kg of wheat, ‘while being able to make up to 80‘. ‘To always have fresh semolina, we grind wheat in our own mill‘. False (see All. 9).

Theproduct certification-issued by DNV back in 2004 and valid until 11.6.22-‘serves to certify by means of analysis and inspection by an independent third party, that the product conforms to the claimed characteristics of excellence.’ But how can DNV GL guarantee the setting of unknown mills, on semolina of unknown origin purchased from third parties? It is easy to assume that the regent’s circle failed to inform the certifier about its supply variables.

Arizona and North Dakota?

The ‘Abruzzi-stylespaghetti western,’ according to confidential sources, could be enriched with new episodes. In addition to the French wheat-already under investigation for fraud in trade, at the Chieti Public Prosecutor’s Office-and semolina of unknown origin also worthy of evaluation, purchases of more than 29,000 tons of wheat of North Dakota origin by De Cecco in 2019 could possibly emerge.

Should this report ever find confirmation in the investigation, this transaction-valued at about €8.6 million-would have saved a little over 15 percent (€1.2 million or so) when compared with Arizona wheat costs. Roughly speaking, Fargo and Phoenix, the most important cities in N.Dakota and Arizona, are about 2,700 km apart (slightly more than that between Rome and Stockholm). North Dakota has yet to be seen either in labels and advertisements or in Filippo Antonio De Cecco’s commitments to the Antitrust Authority.

The other De Cecco

De Cecco is a glorious industry, made world famous by the excellent quality of its pasta historically made with, among other things, spring water. The spaghetti western of which a preview was offered stems solely from the authoritarian management of incumbent regent Filippo Antonio De Cecco. Who, by the way, kicked out all managers unwilling to go along with him in a management best described by historical CEOs.

The other De Cecco is the one represented by namesakes Saturnino and Giuseppe Aristide. Who resigned, on 22.1.20, with the eloquent reasoning that follows.

Recent changes in the organization. company and the absence of accurate and constant reporting from the various corporate functions to the Board of Directors, in its collegial composition, and to the Managing Directors for the areas of delegation, together with the absence of adequate information flow from the Chairman of the Board of Directors, does not allow us to continue further in the timely and serene fulfillment of the mandate received from the Shareholders’ Meeting.

A number of events in recent months, including the numerous activities carried out by the Chairman of the BoD, in the absence of sharing and informing the BoD also regarding the corporate organization, have contributed to the alteration, at present irreversible, of the balance of a management that until some time ago was effective and incisive throughout our
organization’.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Dario Dongo. Wheat origin on pasta label. Three shipwrecks over antitrust fears. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.1.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/origine-grano-in-etichetta-della-pasta-tre-naufragi-per-timore-dell-antitrust
(2) Dario Dongo. Antitrust, Made in Italy pasta and wheat origin, scourge notes. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 11.2.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/antitrust-pasta-made-in-italy-e-origine-del-grano-note-sui-flagelli
(3) Dario Dongo. De Cecco, alleged wheat origin fraud. Prosecutor’s Office investigation. 11/15/20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/de-cecco-frode-presunta-sull-origine-del-grano-indagine-della-procura

Attachments

(1) ANNEX 1 Filippo Antonio De Cecco, declaration of commitments to Antitrust (AGCM)
(2) ANNEX 2 AGCM, minutes of meeting 20.12.19
(3) ANNEX 3 Cavac Positive Agriculture, Societè Cooperative Agricole à capital variable, invoice to De Cecco 31.1.20 no. 2001/5972
(4) ANNEX 4 De Cecco, purchase order confirmation 4,575 t French wheat to Cevac 30.1.20
(5) ATTACHMENT 5 Email 10.2.2020 from purchasing director Mario Aruffo to secretary Filippo Antonio De Cecco et al.
(6) ANNEX 6 De Cecco, purchase order 4,575 t Apulian wheat to Cevac 13.2.20
(7) ANNEX 7 Buonefra Srl, Via Porto snc, Ortona. Two examples of French grain transport documents from Ortona to the De Cecco plant in Fara San Martino, 13-17.2.20
(8) ANNEX 8 Attribution of entry code ‘Apulian wheat’ to lots of French wheat entering the De Cecco plant at Fara San Martino, 13-17.2.20
(9) ANNEX 9 ANNEX 9. 1 ANNEX 9.2. De Cecco payable invoices from suppliers Candeal Commercio SRL (26.11.2018 no. 3333/M, 29.11.2018 no. 3374/M, 10.1.2019 no. 68/M, 14.1.2019 no. 114/M) and Loiudice Srl (invoices 31.12.2018 no. 3963/00, 31.1.2019 no. 31300)