December 30, 2021
While pasta traces its history back to the Etruscans of ancient Italy, it has certainly made a home for itself in the good old USA. In fact, the National Pasta Association estimates Americans consume 2.7 million tons of it each year, making the US the largest pasta market in the world.
In recognition of January 4th as National Spaghetti Day – which honors just one of the hundreds of types of pasta – let’s take a look at the consumer brands in the business of putting pasta on plates in America.
Darden Restaurants, Inc. (Tii:DRI) is the parent company of America’s largest Italian-American-inspired full-service restaurant chain – Olive Garden. With more than 1,800 locations, Olive Garden accounted for $3.59 billion of Darden’s $7.19 billion in revenues for its fiscal year ended May 30th. However, there may be grim news ahead for those who dine at the eatery. Despite a 29% increase in same-store sales, rumors abound that the casual restaurant chain will end its Never-Ending Pasta Bowl promotion – much to the chagrin of its pasta-loving customers.
Based in East Rutherford, NJ, MamaMancini’s Holdings Inc. (Tii:MMMB) is a manufacturer and distributor of Italian products and meals that are sold in over 45,000 locations nationwide, including Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Albertsons, and Safeway. MamaMancini’s currently has over 40 products, including a line of Grab & Go Pasta Bowls, plant-based spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, chicken parmesan, sausages and more. The company is in expansion mode, having announced definitive agreements to acquire T&L Creative Salads, Inc. and Olive Branch, LLC. T&L offers a full line of foods for retail food chains and club stores, delis, bagel stores, caterers and distributors. Olive Branch distributes olives, olive mixes, and other savory products, primarily in pre-packaged containers.
Founded in 1958, Dallas-based RAVE Restaurant Group (Tii:RAVE) owns, operates, franchises and/or licenses 200 Pie Five Pizza Co. and Pizza Inn restaurants and Pizza Inn Express kiosks domestically and internationally. While primarily a place to grab a pizza pie, Pizza Inn offers two pasta dishes on its menu: spaghetti with marinara sauce and garlic breadsticks, and the Spaghetti Deluxe, which is baked with marinara sauce, meatballs and mushrooms and topped with mozzarella cheese and served with garlic breadsticks.
Best known for its wood-burning grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill was founded in Houston, TX by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in 1986. Now part of the Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. (Tii:BLMN) portfolio, Carrabba’s offers about a dozen pasta options that include Lasagna, Lobster Ravioli, Rigatoni Martino, Linguine Pescatore, Linguine Positano, Shrimp and Scallop Linguine alla Vodka and the traditional spaghetti with Pomodoro sauce, meat sauce, or meatballs.
TreeHouse Foods Inc. (Tii:THS) entered the pasta business in December 2020 with the acquisition of Riviana Foods’ US branded pasta portfolio and St. Louis manufacturing facility. The $242.5 million cash purchase price included the following regional pasta brands: Skinner, No Yolks, American Beauty, Creamette, San Giorgio, Prince and Light’ n Fluffy, Mrs. Weiss’, New Mill, P&R Procino-Rossi and Wacky Mac.
As its name would imply, Maggiano’s Little Italy is another eatery with robust pasta offerings on its menus. Diners can choose between baked ziti, lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti, gnocchi and more at this Italian-inspired restaurant chain. A brand of Brinker International, Inc. (Tii:EAT), Maggiano’s sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2022 increased to $86.3 million compared to $53.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2021. This gain was primarily due to higher dining and banquet room sales and higher delivery sales.
The popularity of spaghetti – and just about every type of pasta – is enduring. Whether accompanied by a tomato or cheese-based sauce, meat or added to a salad, its versatility and ability to fill hungry bellies all but guarantee a continued presence on American dining tables for many years to come.