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Alfredo Arnone and Tony Turchiaro were classmates and neighbours in Italy circa 1936. Both hoping for a better life outside of Italy, Alfredo immigrated to Canada in 1951 at age 20 with Tony following shortly thereafter in 1953. The two young men held various occupations in Toronto while simultaneously establishing and operating a small Italian importing company to supplement their incomes.

Turchiaro and Arnone Importing and Distributing began importing numerous Italian consumables in 1955. The company was able to establish exclusive North American importing and distributing rights to a large line of Italian baking products popular in Europe. With the great influx of European immigrants to Canada during this time, the pair felt confident that genuine Italian consumer products would be in great demand by those new to the country. They started modestly - the Arnone family garage served as the company warehouse with Tony’s car as the delivery truck for many years.

In early 1966, the importing business had outgrown the Arnone garage and Alfredo and Tony decided to purchase a commercial building on Toryork Drive to store their inventory of imported goods. It turned out that storing the inventory in the warehouse left significant room to spare. Spotting the opportunity in this unused space, and with the addition of Tony’s brother,
Salvatore Turchiaro to the team, it was decided to use this area to wholesale non-imported Italian food products.

They began simply by purchasing Italian foods in bulk from manufacturers and skillfully distributing them throughout the growing city of Toronto. Deli meats, cheese, coffee, pasta, and antipasto were all sold and shipped out of the Toryork warehouse. The deli meats, in particular, were packaged and sold under the “Bona” private label. Bona Foods was born.

The Bona Foods business flourished, soon becoming a full time job for the trio. Drawing upon their contacts in the food industry, and a good deal of hustling, Bona Foods was able to develop a small but solid client base. Tony, Alfredo, and Salvatore did well enough wholesaleing meats to encourage them to experiment with producing, in-house, the same type of meats they were already distributing. They realized that there were greater profit margins to be made by moving up the supply chain and manufacturing their own products – especially with a loyal number of existing clients and a successful distribution network.

With the proper salami specialists, they refined the process to produce Italian sausage products. Industrial-scale processing equipment was imported from Europe (grinder, mixer, stuffer, etc.). Gas ovens, each big enough to park a car in, were constructed for producing cooked products like mortadella, capocolli, and pepperoni. Large drying rooms were built to hang and dry cure various meats.

In 1970, the Toryork plant was expanded to about double its original size and underwent major renovations to increase the production capacity of the plant. Offices and staff areas were moved and enlarged to free up factory floor space and better accommodate the increased number of labourers employed. An office was also built for the in-house Agriculture Canada Inspector (now the CFIA Inspector) This government inspector constantly confirms that Bona Foods operates within Canadian meat processing regulations and allows us export priviliges.

While many aspects of the Toryork plant have been upgraded and renovated with new technologies, the building and production processes are quite similar to those started in the 1970s. The unique flavour and quality of Bona Foods’ products have endured throughout the years.

The business has remained family owned and operated since 1966. Tony, Salvatore, and Alfredo are still active in the management of the business. Bona Foods is now also proud to employ 2nd and 3rd generation members of the Turchiaro and Arnone families.

©2003 Bona Foods Limited
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