Brothers for their veal and lamb needs. He makes a convincing argument, noting that the 35-year old company is North America’s largest
producer of veal products, and one of the largest for lamb products.
The organization notched sales of around $325 million last year, an
impressive 12. 5 percent increase from the previous year, Catelli says.
The company offers American, Australian, New Zealand and Quebec-grown lamb, as well as its core product line of milk and grain-fed veal
from its fully integrated system.
The health and well-being of its animals is paramount to Catelli
Brothers. “Our organization has our own staff of vets and feed technicians who make sure the calves are raised properly and that we meet
the highest standards in veal production,” says Catelli. The company’s
website notes that Catelli has earned Level 2 certification by the Safe
Quality Food Institute (SQF Code)—which is one of the highest standards in the food industry—confirming its commitment to producing
safe, quality food. The company also has Arrowsight 24/7 third-party
video and audio monitoring to ensure its employees abide by humane
animal handling practices.
“Our goal is to offer the best quality and most consistent products,
as well as the best service, to our retail customers,” Catelli says, noting
that the company offers more than 100 SKUs of veal and lamb products. “Our pitch to retailers is that we sell a branded Catelli program,
designed to fit their specific needs. We can create planograms to satisfy
their consumers’ demands through our ‘fix to mix’ program that offers
a variety of cuts at prices that meet every level of affordability.
Calling it “farm-to-flavor” Catelli offers products that are pre-pack-
aged, pre-seasoned, marinated and pre-priced, as well as seasonal pro-
grams during crucial times of the year. “Frankly, there is nothing we
cannot do in fulfilling our retailers’ needs,” he says. “Many retailers do
not have butchers available. We want to make sure that they can still offer
a full variety of products. Let us assist you in managing this category.”
Catelli wants retailers to help too. Besides suggesting a visible loca-
tion in the meat counter for veal and lamb—preferably placed next to
each other—he asks retailers to re-examine their pricing strategies with
these meats. Many merchants, he says, increase margins on these meats
to as much as 40 percent to 50 percent, making them unaffordable for
some consumers and increasing the shrink rate. Catelli recommends
that retailers look at margins around the 25 percent range, which should
bring new customers to the categories and eliminate most of the shrink
issues. “I predict they will be very happy with the results,” he adds.
Besides the quality of the meat, Catelli emphasizes the experience the
company possesses. He and his brother Jim founded Catelli Brothers in
1981, but their dad was involved in the veal and lamb business since the
mid-1940s. In fact, a photo of their dad, Anthony Catelli, Sr., intently
looking at livestock at an auction in the 1950s is prominently displayed
at the company office.
“My brother and I borrowed $50,000, bought two used trucks and
rented a cooler in Trenton, N.J.,” Catelli says. “We gained a lot of experi-
ence working with our dad and that helped us grow and succeed.”
Their first big break on their own came in 1982 when a veal sup-
plier in Whippany, N.J. offered to supply the brothers. Being located
just outside of Philadelphia did not hurt either. Catelli notes that his
facility is within hours of five of the largest metropolitan areas in the
Northeast, though the company now ships to retailers in 40 states. He
also acknowledges a special relationship with Acme, the Philadelphia-
area supermarket chain. “My family has a 46-year history with Acme
Markets. We greatly appreciate the relationship, and they have always
been a great partner in developing new products,” he says.
Of course, history and experience alone does not sell veal and lamb.
Catelli is fast to note that the company is investing in its infrastructure
to stay ahead of the curve.
Catelli Brothers is part of The Fontelli Food Group, which owns more
than 85 corporate farms and operates both the largest veal processing
plant and abattoir in Canada. It also manufactures their own feed in
two plants—located in Quebec and Wisconsin. Quebec-based Fontelli
Food Group employs more than 800 workers at its three companies:
Delimax Farms, Montpak International and Catelli Brothers.
In the last five years alone, the Fontelli Food Group has invested
$25 million in a new group-raised veal farm in Quebec. Earning SQF-
certification in all three of its plants required an additional investment of
over $6 million. The world’s first SQF certification for milk-fed veal pro-
duction was awarded recently to Fontelli’s Delimax Group in Canada.
“We realize that it is all about going to our customers and meeting
their expectations,” says Catelli. “They have come to expect a lot from
us because of our great track record. We want to give them the very best
in the future as well. That is our goal.”