Did you know there are over 300 distinct pasta shapes available in the market? Bucatini, spaghetti, elbow pasta, capellini, fusilli, and garganelli, are just a few among many others.

We already have a lot of pasta in different shapes, sizes, flavours, and colours available in the market today. Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought of getting introduced to a new pasta shape一especially during a pandemic.  

However, one individual made it his goal to introduce a new pasta shape despite the challenges. 

James Beard Award winner, Dan Pashman, started his journey three years ago. Due to his many frustrations with other pastas available, he wanted another option. Spaghetti couldn’t hold enough sauce and angel hair always becomes too mushy too quickly. 

After much experimentation (and taste testing), he was ready to launch his very own pasta shape last year一the cascatelli. The name, cascatelli, means “waterfalls” in Italian, which is what the pasta shape resembles. 

Unlike other pasta types, DanPashman made sure the cascatelli maximises:

  • Sauceability: How well sauce can adhere to the shape.
  • Forkability: How easy it is to get the pasta onto a fork.
  • Toothsinkability: How satisfying it is to bite into the pasta shape.

Cascatelli pasta on a fork

Image by Foglini

While the cascatelli had the makings of great pasta—unfortunately—there was a roadblock in its release.

COVID-19 struck the whole world in early 2020, forcing everything to a standstill. Governments across the world imposed lockdowns and travel bans, while supply chains worldwide were greatly disrupted. Dan Pashman suddenly had to deal with supply chain challenges for his new pasta shape.

So, how did he bounce back? And how did he break through the supply chain disruption to continue pursuing his dream of introducing the best pasta in the world?

We can learn a lot from the supply chain challenges Dan Pashman went through since March 2020. From the lack of raw materials to troubles with sourcing packaging一there was a lot of bumps in the road before cascatelli could land on your plate.

Innovation to Overcome Shortage Crisis 

Everything started in March last year when Pashman and his team faced the global pandemic. 

They partnered with D. Maldari & Sons to make the pasta die, the key factor that gives the pasta its shape. But the bronze that was needed to complete the pasta die comes from Italy and the Middle East. This was the first problem since both countries were greatly affected by the pandemic.

They couldn’t just seek other pasta die manufacturers as well, because those companies were prioritising bigger, more established clients. It also didn’t help that pasta companies increased their volume production by 30% to keep up with the rising demand for dried pasta with the onset of COVID-19, putting added pressure on the pasta industry.

What usually took 3 to 4 weeks to get the raw materials for pasta die, was now extended to 3 to 4 months because of the pandemic. This delay in raw material resulted in operational delays across his supply chain, but Pashman wasn’t one to be sitting around. Instead of accepting defeat, he looked for alternatives. 

In his search, he luckily found an unused old die.

With a new strategy in mind, he immediately sent it to D. Maldari & Sons for modification. The company was able to change the existing die faster than creating one from scratch, and popped in the cascatelli pasta shape in a fraction of the time. It was also a genius way of reusing pre-existing machinery and repurposing it into something new again.

Key Takeaway: As supply chain managers, it is essential to be creative when suppliers can’t meet your demand. Although some materials are exclusively sourced from certain countries, practicing local sourcing or unconventional sourcing might be the solution you need. 

Substitution to Resolve Paper Problems 

After Pashman and his team overcame the hurdle for their pasta die, things were getting better. They sourced flour and partnered with Sfoglini Pasta to create the cascatelli. But, the smooth sailing didn’t last long, as Pashman met another problem.

There were no cardboard suppliers available to create their pasta boxes. 

During the boom in the e-commerce industry, the demand for corrugated cardboard surged. The increase was so massive, there weren’t enough suppliers to deliver the materials needed for Pashman to box his brand new cascatelli pasta.

Pashman originally planned to make 5,000 16 oz. boxes of cascatelli to ship directly to the customers from the Sfoglini Pasta website. But, because they couldn’t source enough materials for the pasta boxes, they were only able to make 3,700. 

In less than 2 hours after launching it, they sold all 3,700 boxes on the Sfoglini Pasta website. Talk about cascatelli was all over social media, and people were getting increasingly curious about it. The demand was there一and Pashman was pressured to meet it.

Pashman and his team were in a crunch. But they didn’t stop looking for a solution to find suppliers that can meet their boxing demands. The team did have a temporary solution by packaging the cascatelli in labelled plastics. Still, it was not a long-term solution.

Once again, Pashman decided to take a new route and he substituted the cardboard paper with a different kind of paper that was easier to source. Because of his intuitive move, Pashman and his partners were able to move forward and build their inventory for the cascatelli. 

Key Takeaway: Having alternative suppliers and materials is key to business continuity. It allows you to have a Plan B when things don’t go as expected. Using alternative options without compensating for quality is paramount to dealing with any shortage crisis. Moreover, partnering with sustainable suppliers that can meet your demand allows you to continue operations.

Creative Sourcing Solutions are the Future 

The COVID-19 pandemic froze the supply chain in 2020, and the industry is still recuperating from it. However, this shouldn’t be a barrier for you to look for better alternatives to ensure business continuity. 

Learn from Dan Pashman’s innovative and bold thinking when dealing with disruptions, resolving issues, and managing your overall supply chain. Doing so will help you stay operational and increase efficiency without losing out on any profits.

Supply chain disruptions are inevitable—but they don’t have to be roadblocks to your business. Minimise all those risks by investing in the sustainability and agility of your supply chain. When you partner with the right suppliers, they can support your business for the long haul.

Here at Good for Life, we work with suppliers in 32 countries to make procurement decentralisation faster and more feasible. We are committed to partnering you with sustainable suppliers and using agile technology to continue serving your customers.

Contact us today to get started!