Lorenzo DeTomasi

AI, Data & Platforms Engineering Manager, Barilla

Supernova Award Category: 
Next-Generation Customer Experience
The Organization: 

Barilla is the largest pasta producer in the world, with 8572 employees across 25 countries. Barilla is renowned in Italy and around the world for the excellence of its food products. Barilla brands include Barilla, Mulino Bianco, Pan di Stelle, Gran Cereale, Harrys, Pavesi, Wasa, Filiz, Yemina and Vesta, Misko, and Voiello.

The Problem: 

From unpredictable crop yields to the rising costs of raw materials, climate change has disrupted supply chains, leading to product shortages and quality issues. As the largest pasta producer in the world, with 300+ different food products made in 28 factories and distributed across 100+ countries, the need to adopt a more sustainable and resilient supply chain strategy was critical to mitigate these risks and protect our operating margins. However, our legacy on-premises data warehouse was ill-equipped to scale their operations effectively, creating silos that impacted our ability to navigate a growing list of external threats to our operations.

Historically, Barilla has been more of a people-driven company which served us well, but as our distribution expanded to support the growing demand for products worldwide, it became clear we needed to modernize our data to allow analytics at scale. With over 1TB of data (e.g., manufacturing logs, sensor data, ESG reports, logistics, inventory, financial metrics, marketing media spend) ingested daily, discovery of the right data for proper decision-making was compromised. Additionally, Barilla’s large footprint in Europe required processing sensitive consumer data for GDPR compliance. It was critical to have a solid data governance plan in place to ensure data quality and accuracy of insights for reporting.

The Solution: 

Upgrading our monolithic, mainframe-based infrastructure to Databricks Lakehouse, Azure Databricks and Power BI for departmental reporting and dashboarding helped propel Barilla’s data-driven transition. Ninety percent of Barilla’s business from finance, R&D, manufacturing, supply chain and marketing now run on Databricks Lakehouse. Moving to the Lakehouse was a game changer for us. We use all the key Databricks technologies including Delta Lake to create a centralized global repository; Unity Catalog to easily discover, understand and use data more securely through catalogs of data assets that are discoverable through shared tables and views; Databricks SQL to help analysts run BI workloads at scale; and MLflow to operationalize machine learning models. Using Databricks Lakehouse has helped our data teams work together toward delivering on our goals and has allowed Barilla to excel not only as a flagship of Italian tradition, but also as a flagship of innovation.

The Results: 

Barilla has seen a dramatic shift to data-informed decisions and an immediate improvement in operational efficiency. Barilla uses Databricks Lakehouse end-to-end supporting the decision-making of over 1000 data users across the company delivering business continuity like never before. Databricks has helped Barilla solve business challenges across a range of departments, saving millions of euros in production costs. With the lakehouse architecture, we now have a centralized enterprise data platform for all management, integration and analysis. This gives our teams the data they need to create value for the company.

To streamline supply chain management, Barilla has implemented a traceability system using Databricks. By analyzing supplier performance through BI dashboards, they are able to stack rank suppliers by product quality and on-time delivery to assess supplier risk. Our data teams can now easily monitor shipments overseas in near real-time, predict demand and adjust production to improve inventory management. In addition, our marketing teams use Databricks Lakehouse to understand customer behavior and preferences to identify new markets and segment customers to drive more revenue opportunities. ROI tracking of marketing spend with an analytics dashboard reveals sales output on investments made via different channels.


More than 100 dashboard metrics feed decision making at Barilla. 40+ data products are now in production across 90% of the business. The ultimate goal of our data initiatives are more efficient and sustainable operations. Turnover (revenues) are up 18% year over year (2021 vs 2022), and Barilla’s data initiative has helped grow revenue, protect margins and improve sustainability. Compared to 2010 and per tonne of finished product, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 32% (an increase of 6 percentage points compared to the previous year) and water consumption by 24% (source: 2022 Barilla Sustainability Report). https://www.barillagroup.com/en/press-room/press-releases/2022-sustainab...

The Technology: 

Databricks Lakehouse Platform, Azure Databricks, Power BI

Disruptive Factor: 

Databricks Lakehouse provides Barilla’s entire data team with the means to quickly process and analyze terabytes of business data. This has cleared a path toward an operating model that is collaborative, highly efficient and environmentally sustainable, with the end goal to improve manufacturing operations.

Shining Moment: 

The dismantling of information silos at Barilla. Prior to Databricks Lakehouse, business continuity and collaboration were incredibly challenging due to data being siloed in many different places. Our previous technology stack consisted of monolithic components and data splintered across the organization with no unified data platform. Now 90% of the company sits on our new, unified data platform.

About Barilla

Barilla is a family business chaired by the brothers Guido, Luca and Paolo Barilla. It was founded by their great-grandfather Pietro Barilla, who opened a bakery in Parma in 1877. Today, Barilla is renowned in Italy and around the world for the excellence of its food products. Barilla advocates tasty, hearty and wholesome nutrition, inspired by the Mediterranean Diet and the Italian lifestyle.