EU funds help: The pasta kingdom is alive also thanks to European subsidies (VIDEO)
5. 3. 2021
Five to six thousand kilograms of pasta was produced every month in the small Central Bohemian town of Mníšek pod Brdy. This was at a time when the world was "normal," i.e. in the pre-covid era. Recently, pasta production has dropped significantly. Even so, the producers remain optimistic. They trust the quality of their fresh pasta infinitely.
The company Pasta Fidli, headed by Helena Cyrnerová and her daughter Gabriela, was founded in 2012. All the preparations took a year and a half and in 2014 the production started. The premises for the company Pasta Fidli was found on the ground floor of a pre-fab block of flats in a Mníšek's housing estate near the school. "We do not need large spaces, our hundred square meters are quite enough for us. Here we have the production, storage as well as office space," says Helena Cyrnerová.
Pasta Fidli offers jobs and a chance to be integrated into everyday life for disabled people. More than six years ago, Pasta Fidli started its production with basic types of pasta. They made spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne, later they added ravioli, potato gnocchi and more recently Czech potato dumplings. Now they even produce eleven kinds of pesto. The most popular ones include pesto from dried tomatoes, peperonchina, but also the classic - basil. The pasta is made in 14 shapes and seven flavoured varieties, the most popular being tagliatelle and spaghetti.
EU FUNDS HELPED REPEATEDLY
In 2016, Pasta Fidli received an EU subsidy. The project, completed in 2018, dealt with expanding the personnel and production in the social enterprise, specifically expanding the products and services offered.
"We used that subsidy to acquire machines for the production of stuffed pasta and potato gnocchi and to increase the distribution capacity. Two jobs were created for people with disabilities," says Helena Cyrnerová. The total project costs amounted to almost CZK 2.4 million, the European Union subsidy contributed 85 percent.
For Pasta Fidli, it was not the only help from EU funds. The first came in 2013. It amounted to CZK 2.5 million and was used to establish the production facility. The starting costs of the company totalled CZK 12 million. Last year, thanks to the third EU funds subsidy at CZK 1.5 million, they could start producing pesto and train their disabled employees.
At the beginning of last year, they had eight handicapped employees in Pasta Fidli, then they had to lay off due to covid. Now they employ five of them. "We also had a driver for delivery but we had to dismiss him too, now I do the delivery myself," says Helena Cyrnerová. The Pasta Fidli employees include those with reduced mobility after a car crash, people after spinal surgery, but also a schizophrenic.
RESTAURANTS GAVE A HELPING HAND
Helena Cyrnerová praises the restaurants that started taking pasta right after the start of the company. "They received us very well, they wanted to support the social area as well, for many restaurants, the first impetus for cooperation was to support this area.
We were supported by the names of quality chefs such as Faltys, Šmejkal, Paulus, also Roman Vaněk helped us. These names literally opened the door to the gastrosegment for us. However, we did not get the support for free. We had to be competitive in both price and speed of delivery, for example within 24 hours. We succeeded and before the covid crisis we delivered to 150 restaurants, but also to Makro wholesale or Košík.cz food e-shop," says Helena Cyrnerová.
The head of the company says about the present times that the decline in production is huge. "We did not close, but we lost most of our customers overnight. Out of the original 150, our products are purchased by then customers, which is literally insane, but we hold on.” The two-shift operation changed to one-shift last year. Because they did not close down, they were entitled to minimal government aid. The possibility to include a new assortment of pestos, ravioli and gnocchi in the production probably saved the company.
Last year, they had to reorient themselves to the segment of end consumers who require a wider range of products. The e-shop for end consumers, founded in March, also helped them to survive, but especially the customers themselves who started shopping at the company saved it not only in the spring months, but also in the autumn of 2020. Without these people and subsidies from EU funds, the company would not survive.
Despite the difficulties, Helena Cyrnerová and her daughter do not lose their optimism. "It must get better, we believe in it. Our fresh pasta, with the basic ingredients imported from Italy, is of high quality, as previous years have shown. Times are tough, but things will definitely get better. They must so that our great pasta reaches as many people as possible. That is why we are preparing an extensive promotional campaign on social networks in February," Helena Cyrnerová adds.
More than six years ago, Pasta Fidli started its production with basic types of pasta. They made spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne, later added ravioli, potato gnocchi and more recently Czech potato dumplings and pesto. Still at the beginning of last year, they had eight disabled employees in the company, then they had to lay off due to covid.
Photo: Pasta Fidli Archive