Italy: Early asparagus available thanks to forced cultivation

"We are currently harvesting a small quantity of asparagus thanks to forced cultivation obtained using the warm geothermal water in our territory. Our produce has been available in winter for the past 25 years."

This is what reported by Sergio Marcoaldi, agronomist and quality manager at C.O.P.A., Cooperativa Ortofrutticola Produttori Associati di Canino (Viterbo). "Quality is excellent, as using mini polytunnels and warming the soil creates a springy microclimate that helps asparagus grow."

"The crops managed by our partners cover approximately 300 hectares. Most of the produce is processed at the cooperative's facility with two new electronic grading lines, which sort the produce, grade and package it in bunches (250, 400 and 500 gram). In addition, we are working to obtain the PGI mark for our green asparagus."

For the past forty years, the Cooperative has been gathering the best producers between northern Lazio and southern Tuscany "Certifying our processes and products would enable us to sell produce to those distributors who care a lot about guaranteeing the highest quality to their customers. We are also working to perfect our chain by introducing the I.F.S. (International Food Standard) certification and implementing GRASP," explains President Ernesto Baglioni.

"We do this as a way to guarantee that our asparagus are not just good to eat, well-packaged and produced using sustainable methods in a marvellous unspoilt setting such as that of Maremma Tosco-Laziale, but also respect an ethical code that takes into consideration the health and dignity of operators who harvest, package and commercialise them. We want our clients to know how our vegetables are produced and what lies behind the product they purchase."

Freshly-harvested asparagus reach European markets quickly, as only little time passes between harvesting, packaging and shipping thanks especially to the commitment and investments made by C.O.P.A. over the past few years.

"With an annual production of over 1,500 tons, the Cooperative operates on the main European markets, including Ireland, Great Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. The United Arab Emirates and Dubai in particular are also good customers," reports sales manager Giancarlo Benella.

"The domestic asparagus production in the countries to which we export is late and sometimes limited, therefore they enjoy high-quality Italian produce. Our objective is to extend the calendar, which starts in late January and continues until mid-June. New late varieties would help us extend it further to July, which no other Italian producer does at the moment."

The COPA team at the 2017 edition of Fruit Logistica.

C.O.P.A. will attend Fruit Logistica 2018 (Berlin, 7th-9th February) in Hall 4.2, Stand D04 - Regione Lazio-ARSIAL collective stand.

Società Agricola C.O.P.A. soc. coop.
Via Pietro Nenni snc
01011 Canino (VT)
Tel.: +39 (0)761 438207
Fax: +39 (0)761 437458

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