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Acetaia Giusti

The world's oldest balsamic vinegar.

What is balsamic vinegar of Modena? It’s not simply vinegar, it’s the history of a family. A bit like the one of the Giusti family, who after 17 generations is changing course and turning into a company able to embrace both change and tradition.

Acetaia Giusti could only be established in Modena

To what extent was context crucial to creation of your company?

Modena is in Emilia, an area of Italy that I think is very special as it links the north with the rest of the country. A part of the Italy where people are used to working hard, though with dedication and a smile on their face, still seeking a good way of living, both at work and in human relationships. This led to the creation of many businesses in a wide variety of sectors, showing pragmatism and imagination at the same time.

The biomedical centre north of Modena, the once international success of knitwear and the long-standing one of ceramics, the incredible heritage in terms of mechanics and automation that have led to the creation of the world’s sleekest luxury and racing car centre, plus food companies of course. The perfect synthesis for people who are used to hard work and good food. So not just fine cheeses and excellent cold cuts, but also and mostly Balsamic Vinegar, the king of Modena’s tradition, which brings together and encompasses generations of families.

A concentrate of dedication, history and people that illustrates the path slowly built by generations and the history of one generation – the latest – that innovated it, starting from its uniqueness. We are proud of being from Modena, a land of strong, creative, entrepreneurial and resilient people. Acetaia Giusti is a company that could only be established in Modena.

What are the origins of your company?

The first records date back to 1605, when Giuseppe and Francesco Maria Giusti were included in the register of sausage and lard makers of the Duke of Este. The latter was eager to record, for the first time, the businesses located in Modena, the new capital of his duchy, which had just ‘lost’ Ferrara. Since then, many generations (we think 15) have followed one another at the helm of what for 400 years remained an excellent and lustrous ‘Deli’ that sold products of extremely high quality, including its pride and joy, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, made in the attics of the same building, which was also the family home.

Lulls alternated with strong bursts of activity, like the late 1800s, when Pietro e Giuseppe Giusti took their Balsamic Vinegar to 9 Italian expositions and 5 international ones: Vienna in 1873, the 1889 exposition in Paris, Antwerp, Brussels and again Paris in 1900. The public and juries of these fairs decided on its quality and recognition with certificates and medals still proudly on display in our museum. Finally, it obtained the “Patent of the Royal House of Savoy” as the exclusive supplier to the King of Italy in 1929.

Throughout this period, century-old barrels and casks kept on sitting in the attic, where premium quality balsamic vinegars matured and aged. A ‘commercial’ bottle was first designed in the early 1900s, with the Belle Époque in full swing. With its Art Nouveau label, it went on to define the identity that still represents us today.
It remained a deli with an outstanding product that was already gaining appreciation abroad. Up until 1989, when my father decided to help ‘uncle Giuseppe’, with no children of his own who could keep on running the shop, turn balsamic vinegar into the first small business.

In 2005, after eight years as a consultant at Accenture, following a proposal from my father who “wanted to pass on the reins to someone young to breathe new life into the company”, I decided to join and try to take on the challenge of starting from a small firm to create a successful model.

What are the goals of your company?

Acetaia Giusti should serve as a model of beauty for the product it makes and sells, for the company it is, for its processes, for the people working in it and for internal relationships. We firmly believe in a company where you feel happy, that pushes its limits, always looking at excellent examples and constantly improving. From 2005 up until today we have gone from 6 to 50 employees, whose average age is below 30, now often recruited during the company’s visits in food, marketing or branding courses held in universities.

Along with a strong brand identity, our core values are constantly putting ourselves out there, taking a fresh look at our ideas, changing, improving and growing. Plus a green economy of course, by reducing the use of plastic or polluting materials as much as possible, but also social media, with a strong interest in welfare, maternity leave regarded as something we are delighted to support and never as an issue, the recent recruitment of young people viewed as a success.

This led us to open an in-house museum visited by more than 25,000 people every year, to export in 60 countries, open branches in Germany, the US, South Korea and Hong Kong and tell a beautiful story of entrepreneurship in the four corners of the world.

What makes Giusti’s balsamic vinegar unique?

Our passion, dedication and love for ‘perfection’ in terms of aesthetics and content, almost an ‘insatiability’ that drives us to always create the best possible products. With the fortune of having a barrel collection unique in the world, more than 600 of them dating back to the 1700s-1800s, in which balsamic vinegar acquires exquisite aromas and flavours.

Aceto Giusti’s products are made unique by its long-standing history with a great – wonderful – contradiction: 17 generations who have created a new company, made up of and interpreted by brilliant young people. This history is reflected in both the quality and, of course, in the design of the product, its labels and packaging, which still draw inspiration from those initial early 20th-century Art Nouveau drawings. A group of colleagues who support each other and experience constant change, who leave room for innovation whilst still always thoroughly enjoying conviviality.

Is this not the secret of beauty?