Starting with Sauces
LiDestri has a rich heritage, dating back to its founding in 1975 as Cantisano Foods by Ralph Cantisano, whose family previously founded and sold the Ragu Packing Company. By 1976, LiDestri was being managed by its current owner, Giovanni LiDestri, whom Cantisano plucked as his protégé from the Ragu production floor. At Giovanni’s urging, the company began producing pasta sauce in 1978. Since then, the company has been an innovator in sauces and salsas. But Giovanni has never been to one let the grass grow under his feet: In the past 10 years, he’s moved to diversify the company, adding spirits and beverage divisions to the food offerings and forging new partnerships such as the recent collaboration with Love Beets.
Innovating from the Start
While the Innovation Center didn’t open until 2014, the facilities there are the embodiment of the groundbreaking spirit the company has had since its earliest days, when it pioneered several advances in creating sauces and salsas:
Creating the first commercial pasta sauces in the nation that were formulated with chunks of tomatoes rather than pureed tomato sauce.
Cooking sauce outside kettles, as it travels through metal pipes to the bottling lines, preserving flavor and preventing scorching.
Being first in the industry to remove cardboard between jars as flats.
Today, LiDestri is one of the premier sauce makers in the country, making some 40 million cases of sauces and salsas every year at five locations coast to coast for some of the country’s largest and most respected retail brand and national brand partners, including Wegmans Food Markets and Newman’s Own.
Growing and Changing
Since 2003, when Ralph Cantisano retired and Giovanni LiDestri bought his stock and renamed the company, LiDestri as a company has been more focused on innovation, and with the increasing commoditization of the sauce market, diversification. Milestones include:
LiDestri Spirits division was founded in 2009, further diversifying its capabilities and opportunities to innovate, bringing spirits to life.
LiDestri Beverage division was founded in 2008 with a recognition that consumer tastes have been changing, driving demand for healthier and more natural products. We currently offer hot fill, cold fill, aseptic and high pressure processing (HPP).
The LiDestri Innovation Center, founded in 2014, is a customer playground for innovation and R&D and has already incubated several successful products.