In 1953 Mocopan Food Processing was established by Agostino Monici, Sergio Coperchini and Vic Panettieri at 147 Plenty Road, Preston. The name was an amalgamation of the surnames of the three men. Monici was put in charge of coffee processing and sales, Coperchini took charge of the production of smallgoods (salame and mortadella), whilst Panettieri was a silent partner. The processing of polenta flour began soon after the business opened. The company also served as the agent/importer of La Faema coffee machines from Italy.
The smallgoods production managed by Coperchini was not economically viable and ceased in 1954. Around this time Panettieri decided to sell his shares to Frank Agostino. As at 26th February 1954, the shareholding was: Agostino Monici 7600 shares, Sergio Coperchini 978 shares and Frank Agostino 3525 shares.
This arrangement did not last long and by 1955 both Coperchini and Agostino had decided to sell their shares. When Coperchini left the company he took with him the agency of La Faema coffee machines. Monici then obtained the agency of La Duchessa coffee machines.
Monici began searching for new partners to inject money into the company. He was assisted by Father Nazario of the Capuchin Order and one of the founders of St Anthony's Shrine in Hawthorn. One of Father Nazario's responsibilities was to meet and welcome new migrant arrivals at Station Pier and as a result he had good contacts throughout the Italian community.
Father Nazario approached Carmelo Pellegrino who in turn approached Frank Dimattina. Both men invested along with Joseph Dimattina, Frank’s nephew, the capital of the company was increased from £20,000 to £50,000 and 30,000 new shares were issued. As at 20th June 1955 the shareholding of Mocopan was: Agostino Monici 25%, Carmelo Pellegrino 25%, Frank Dimattina 25% and Joseph Dimattina 25%.
The partnership between Monici and Dimattina was unsuccessful and Monici left Mocopan in 1957. Meanwhile two other nephews’ of Frank Dimattina, Anthony and Dominic, also joined the company. Monici’s shares were later bought by Frank and Dominic Dimattina. Frank also took over the agency of La Duchessa coffee machines. The processing of polenta was briefly resumed, and then was completely phased out in 1987.
In 1960 after the original factory, a tin shed, burned down, a new factory was built on the same site. It was officially opened by Arthur Calwell, then leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. The factory was extended in 1965. During the 1960s and 1970s the company grew under the stewardship of Joseph Dimattina as managing director. After the death of Joseph, Dominic ran the company until 1987 with the help of his son Robert and with Fred Vains as Managing Director.
Carmelo Pellegrino remained a director of the company until 1982 when he was replaced by his son Dominic. He remained a director until the company was sold to Cerebos Pacific Ltd., Singapore, through its subsidiary Cerebos (Australia) Ltd in 1995.
Agostino Monici arrived in Melbourne on board the ship Australia on 7th November 1951. He had spent 20 years in Somalia before migrating to Australia. Born in Parma he came from a family which had been involved in the coffee business, toasting and trading, for several generations.
Sergio Coperchini was a friend of Monici’s who had also spent time in Somalia. He arrived in Australia in 1951 brining with him some experience in the production of smallgoods.
Vic Panettieri was an Italian migrant and fruiterer.
Frank Agostino was born in Gioiosa, Italy, he became naturalised in 1939. He owned grocery store Frank Agostino & Co. Pty. Ltd., in Swanston Street, Carlton. He later sold the store to the Valmorbida family.
Carmelo Pellegrino arrived in Australia on 18 March 1939 on the ship 'Viminale'. He worked as an agent for the Italian shipping line Flotta Lauro. It is likely this is how he met Father Nazario, as he also met Italian migrants on arrival at Station Pier to assist them with the immigration and customs process.
Salvatore Francesco ‘Frank’ Dimattina arrived in Australia in 1922. He opened a fruit shop in Acland Street, St Kilda with his brothers Domenico ‘Mick’ and Bartolo ‘Bob’.
Joseph Dimattina the nephew of Frank Dimattina, he was heavily involved in the management of Mocopan until his death.
Cerebos Pacific Ltd. The Food Institute Report 18 December 1995, p. 6.
Dominic Pellegrino, Personal Communication, 19 February 2014
National Archives of Australia