Interview with Renzo Piracini from Macfrut

We met up with Renzo Piraccini at the Rimini Expo Center on the day before Macfrut opened. Preparations for the fair started one year earlier.

Interview during the set up

FreshPlaza (FP): President, just like with every fair, it's a miracle that everything is perfect and in order when it's time to open.
Renzo Piraccini (RP): Yes, a miracle possible thanks to everyone's passion and commitment.

FP: Does the fresh produce sector still need fairs in the age of Internet? 
RP: Of course, they are essential. The sector is going through changes. Evolution has always been part of it, but things have sped up over the past few years. Those who don't adapt to technological change, new markets and e-commerce platforms risk being left behind. Macfrut is a way to illustrate what's new and make operators meet. Guests can learn all about new products and productive processes. 

Photo taken during the set up on 8th May 2018 

FP: But what can be new in a sector that consumers feel as backward? In ads, producers are always portrayed with a hoe, straw hat and a blade of grass between their teeth.

RP: Unfortunately that's the message that is conveyed. But our entrepreneurs are striving towards innovation. Or, actually, those who understood that innovation is essential are conquering the markets. There is plenty of innovation around: just think that vertical cultivation is now a common method, or that drones are used to map crops and save water and fertilisers. If consumers knew just how much work lies behind making high quality produce available at the right price, consumption would probably increase. 

Photo taken during the set up on 8th May 2018 

FP: And what are the problems?
 There are segments that are evolving quickly such as processing, packaging, post-harvest technologies, while the production segment is usually stiffer. It needs to be more organised so as to be able to reach new markets with a high-quality product that is nice to eat.

AcquaCampus, a field to test irrigation technologies 

FP: But the new markets are far away...
RP: Yes, but the storage technologies and logistics available today enable companies to reach the entire globe at a competitive cost. For decades, Germany has been the preferred destination of Italian productions, but there's too much going on there now. The ten leading destinations for Italian produce are all in Europe: Germany (42%, +5.8%), France (14% of the total, +9.5%) and Austria (8%). Exports to Spain have increased by 12.8%. But we need to go beyond them. Refrigerated containers make it possible to export medium and long shelf-life fruit all over the world, and perishable fruit can be exported by plane.


FP: Considering the fierce competition, will the Italian fresh produce sector reaffirm itself?

RP: I'm confident it will, but a lot depends on the mentality of operators. Kiwis, apples, pears and table grapes are very popular all over the world, but operators need to seize the opportunities provided by globalisation. I'll stress it again: logistics make it possible to reach destinations all over the world quickly and at an affordable cost. Operators cannot keep thinking the old way. 

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