When you visit Rosina Food Products in Buffalo, N.Y., it is almost a certainty you will be well fed. You may be served Rosina’s trademark baked meatballs or the company’s Celentano or Italian Village brand Cheese Ravioli or Eggplant Rollettes. However, if you schedule your visit later in the year, you might be served some other Italian specialty that doesn’t yet bear the Rosina name.

That’s because brothers Russell and Frank Corigliano, president and chief executive officer, and executive vice president, respectively, have spent the last five years adding to  the growing company their parents started in 1963.

“We are an opportunistic company, we’ll take on an opportunity if it works,” says Russell.

This isn’t a new philosophy, but one that the brothers have adhered to since they purchased the company from their parents in 1997.

The last 11 years have seen Rosina become the No. 1 selling meatball company at retail nationwide and boost overall sales to more than $100 million.

Russell explains, “We developed a mission statement in ‘97 and one of the things that it said was that we wanted to become a more diverse company and to serve the needs of a more broad-based customer. So, if a customer buys meatballs, pasta, eggplant products and entrées, they don’t have to buy them from four different companies.”

Prior to March 2000, Rosina specialized in proteins – meatballs and sausage – exclusively. That year, the company came across its first opportunity to diversify its offerings.

“We fell upon the Celentano Bros. Co., which was a great company with high-quality products and great brand equity,” Russ says.

Rosina acquired the company’s product lines – frozen cheese and meat-filled pasta, including vegetarian and vegan varieties, and frozen entrées such as Eggplant Parmigiana and Eggplant Rollettes – as well as Celentano’s two Verona, N.J.-based processing plants.

In 2005, Rosina also purchased the Italian Village brand from parent company High Liner Foods, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Can. Italian Village products include frozen pastas such as Large and Mini Ravioli, Gnocchi and Floresta brand Ravioli and Tortellini.

“We were lucky enough to be a co-packer for them and already have a relationship there,” Russell says.

“We were able to strike a deal with them. They were looking to rationalize their product line to all fish,” he says. “So that was really a bolt-on expansion. Total volume became very high over night.”

Fortunately, Rosina was prepared for this increase in volume. That’s because in 2003, the company sold its Verona, N.J., plants and moved pasta and entrée operations to an old Lender’s Bagel plant purchased from Aurora Foods Inc. in 2002, just up the road from Rosina’s Buffalo headquarters.

Converting the plant was a large undertaking – one of the biggest challenges the company has faced in the last five years.

“It’s like going out of business and going back into business,” Russell says. When all was said and done, the new facility, which includes a distribution center, was fully integrated by 2004 and cost about $20 million in conversion and training costs (for more on Rosina’s pasta and entrée facility, see plant story).

Getting the plant USDA certified for organic processing, also added to the cost and time frame. Both Rosina’s new pasta and entrée plant, as well as its protein plant, went through the certification process.

“Celentano has always been an all-natural line since its inception,” says Director of Sales & Marketing/Consumer Products Division Tom Finn, who worked with Celentano for 13 years before joining Rosina with the acquisition. “It’s always been no additives, no artificial ingredients – that’s always been one of our niches in the business.”

Today, Rosina has continued this legacy and taken it a step further. The entire line of Celentano vegetarian products are certified organic, as well as the company’s newest Rosina product: Organic Meatballs.

“Organic really is the hot thing in the industry, but predominantly there was a lack of Italian-flavored, quality, organic meatballs out there,” Finn says. “And organic meats – beef, chicken, any poultry – are one of the fastest growing segments of organic right now.”

Launched in mid-2007, the organic meatballs fit well with Rosina’s clean label policy. Every Rosina product begins as a homemade recipe, says Finn.

“We always like to say that when you look at the back of our labels, it’s not stuff you’d find in a laboratory, it’s stuff you’d find in your kitchen,” he says.

This is just one example of several ways the Corigliano brothers’ emphasize authenticity and quality.

“Anything we produce in our plants, we wouldn’t be ashamed to serve at our own family dinners,” Frank says.

And soon the Corigliano family dinner tables may be seeing new products. Not only do the brothers say that more acquisitions are coming, but a new Rosina R&D facility also is in the works. The 7,500-square-foot center will be adjacent to the company’s main headquarters and protein plant.

Adds Director of Sales & Marketing/Foodservice Division John Zimmerman, “We want to make it a place where we have customers come and feel like it’s their home dining room or kitchen. We want to have a friendly atmosphere where people are comfortable coming if they want to share ideas.”


Rosina Food Products Inc.

Location: Buffalo, N.Y.
Top executives:
Russell Corigliano, president and CEO, and Frank Corigliano, executive vice president
Annual sales:
more than $100 million
Rosina, Celentano, Italian Village, Floresta
Primary products: Frozen fully cooked meatballs, frozen pasta, frozen Italian entrees, vegetarian and organic pasta and entrees
Channels served:
Retail supermarket, club stores and in-store deli; foodservice, military; industrial
On the Web: