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Italy: Introducing niche products to make a difference

"When we improved the agricultural practice to keep up with the times, we did not disregard the founding principles of the farming tradition passed on to us by our forefathers. It's a question of respecting the land and the people who get nourishment from it," explains Angelo Bellomo when describing his family business located in Mazara del Vallo (TP).


Soil-less cherry tomatoes

Azienda Agricola Bellomo di Agnello Caterina was established in 2010 on the example of Azienda Agricola Bellomo Giuseppe, now managed by his son Angelo. 

The company covers a little over 6 hectares. The closeness to the sea, combined with favourable climate and soil conditions, makes it possible to grow vegetables throughout the year on open fields (5Ha), polytunnels (5,000 sq m) and greenhouses (6,000 sq m soil-less).


Iceberg lettuce in a polytunnel

"Our company philosophy is based on the right combination between tradition and innovation, where the knowledge passed on by my grandfather to my father is employed alongside new techniques and technologically-advanced greenhouses, where we grow soil-less basil and winter tomatoes. The priority is keeping temperature and humidity under constant control to avoid the onset of diseases, therefore minimising the treatments needed."


Giuseppe Bellomo

In open fields, the company grows mainly leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, endive, chicory, lettuce and parsley throughout the year. Other crops such as tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, chilli peppers, courgettes, cucumbers, green beans etc. are added during summer and crops like cauliflowers, kohlrabi, Savoy cabbage, cabbage, turnip greens, kale, etc. are introduced in winter.

The company deals with competition by constantly introducing new products that arouse the curiosity of consumers.


Moringa oleifera
 
"In order to be more competitive on the market, three years ago we introduced leeks, round radicchio, sugarloaf chicory, curly cabbage, kale, topinambur, New Zealand spinach as well as red and purple potatoes - all crops new to our area."


Goji berries grown in open fields

"For the past two years, we have been testing some new products: 20 plants of physalis peruviana, 150 plants of Goji berries and 20 of moringa oleifera, which are very popular with direct sales. We haves started selling products directly as it's more profitable this way."

Annual production is organised as such: 

Product
Volume
Period
Chard105780 bunches12 months
Chicory28620 bunches12 months
Spinach66590 bunchesSep. - Jun.
Curly endive68300 bunches12 months
Broad-leaved endive53600 bunches12 months
Canasta lettuce18468 heads12 months
Butterhead lettuce
40160 heads12 months
Roman lettuce17600 heads12 months
Date tomatoes
14000 kg
Dec.- Jul.
Cherry tomatoes14500 kg
Dec.- Jul.
Ribbed tomatoes10000 kg
Dec.- Jul.
 
"In the future, we plan on specialising in the cultivation of niche products and diversifying our sales channels by introducing e-commerce as well, especially since we grow products that are not easy to find and are interesting for the professional restaurant industry all over Italy and beyond."

Contacts:
Azienda Agricola Bellomo di Agnello Caterina

Via Delle Serre, sn.
91026 Mazara del Vallo (TP) ITALY
Tel.: +39 3387565602
Email: azienda.agricola.bellomo@gmail.com

Publication date: 9/27/2017


 


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