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More than half deep-frozen, Emilia-Romagna region is the national leader

Italy: Spinach boom, 42,000 tons in 2011

Spinach is so popular thanks to an absent-minded secretary. Why? At the beginning of the 20th century, while reporting data for a quality analysis of spinach, on the line "iron" a secretary typed 30 milligrams instead of 3 (a comma is the culprit) every 100 grams of fresh product. This mistake was corrected only many years later. However, spinach, also thanks to Popeye, became the vegetable with most iron.

Indeed it is one of the vegetables most sold, fresh as well as deep-frozen. According to the purchasing observatory of fruit and vegetables in Cesena, in 2011 13.4 millions of families bought spinach, that is 55.3% of families in the country, for a total of 42,000 tons, spending €100 million, on the average of 3.1kg per family a year. More than half of the product is deep-frozen. Thanks to the frost technology it can be eaten at all times of the year.

On a national scale spinach for a fresh market takes up to 5,800 hectares, but it is in Emilia-Romagna region where there are the perfect weather conditions for its cultivation. In 2010 945 hectares were cultivated.

Loris Cappelli from Cesenate is a historic producer of spinach aimed at the frozen industry. This year he has cultivated about 8 hectares of spinach and in a few days the harvest will start. "There are two harvests per year – Cappelli explains – in spring and in autumn with different seeding. If everything is all right I may even produce 200 quintal per hectare."

The spinach aimed to the industry vary according to the classification. "It can vary from €0.13 to €0.21 a kg – Cappelli observes – classifications consider the length of the stalk and the quantity of leaves. The product is considered extra if it has got a lot of leaves and the stalk is short." Since in the cultivation of spinach there is a pressing mechanization, fields must drain well and be levelled off perfectly.

Cappelli is a partner of Gruppo Orogel, to whom he has been giving the products aimed to the frost industry. "We produce with our partners,80% of them are situated in Emilia Romagna, from March to May in Emilia Romagna, while from October-November to March in Basilicata and Apulia," explains Luca Pagliacci, marketing director at Gruppo Orogel.

"We manipulate and freeze the product directly from our plants" he adds, "we cultivate 650 hectares of spinach in Romagna and 450 in Basilicata and Apulia. In 2011 we produced 25 tons of spinach."

The company, which holds a share of the 24% of the market with this vegetable, is the main producer of spinach and also works for big companies of large-scale distributors. "If we take in account this aspect, more than half of the deep-frozen spinach is produced by Orogel” finally observes Pagliacci.

Publication date: 5/8/2012


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