A story that begins in the 18th century.
The industrial plants of a bygone era, the wind blowing over the Calabrian fields and gently moving the plants of Glycyrrhiza. A distinctive flavour that starts in Calabria and lands at the International Exhibition of Paris and continues to travel the world to these days.
Nature Med history and the history of PDO Calabrian liquorice starts back in time. It is 1886 when the Zagarese family builds a production line for the transformation of the liquorice root. They farm the Rigulizia Cordara on their lands and the new liquorice products are initially reserved to friends and family. This is only the beginning of a successful story. The first rudimentary production line becomes an established industry across Europe and the Zagarese’s products leave Calabria to win several prizes, both in Italy and abroad. They win the gold medal of Antwerp and Niece in 1894 and the Grand Prix at the International Exhibition of Paris in 1900.
After WW2, not much is left of the liquorice industry. Only few conci (small plants dedicated to the liquorice production) survived the war and even they progressively fell into disuse. There are shortages of liquorice root, once the flagship of Calabrian industry; citrus fruit cultivation is now generally preferred to liquorice farming and the root is at risk of disappearing.
Despite the difficulties in sourcing the root, two companies keep the Calabrian liquorice industry alive. One is Zagarese’s, which is bought by Nature Med at the end of the 1990s. Some 100 years after the creation of the first Zagarese production plant, in 1996 the Massarotto family acquire Zagarese and found Nature Med. With passion and determination, the Massarottos preserve the Zagarese’s heritage and launch Nature Med into a new era. Thanks to the new management the brand quickly becomes a reference for production and marketing in the liquorice world.
Nature Med philosophy is to work alongside local producers with the primary objective of preserving the local supply chain. Nature Med achieved this objective by converting land to liquorice root farming, promoting and expanding the liquorice culture and cultivation in Calabria. But most importantly, Nature Med has significantly contributed to the establishment of the Liquorice Supply Chain (FIliera della Liquirizia), now officially recognised by the Calabrian Government (Regione Calabria) and a stepping stone towards PDO certification. It is an important achievement, which aims at restoring the prestige of the liquorice sector. It also introduces stricter controls on the traceability of the roots being processed, tackling, and hopefully completely eliminating, the ever-increasing risk of Calabrian industries using foreign liquorice roots.
Nature Med is the leader, in Italy and the rest of the world, of the real organic, PDO, Calabrian liquorice.