Three varieties are proving very popular in particular: Nabila, Flavia and Flaminia.
"Nabila is excellent for salty soils with a rather heavy consistency. It is therefore a rustic variety that produces big fruits of high quality," explains R&D manager Jacopo Diamanti.
Tests in Basilicata, Sicily and the Sele plain have gone very well.
As regards Flavia and Flaminia, which have been tested in Italy and Spain, they have a long shelf-life and skin that is particularly resistant to bruising. These characteristics are essential for products that are in demand abroad as well.
Flaminia (in the photos
) is vigorous and rusty with crunchy fruits that grow to weigh 30-40 grams. It is suitable for tired soils.
Flavia plants are instead more compact, producing regular medium-large fruits. "They are suitable also for demanding markets such as the UK."
These new varieties represent CIV's continuous commitment to researching plants that can produce high-quality fruit in different conditions, which is essential in a diverse territory such as the Italian one.
And it was precisely this research that has given a new lease of life to the strawberry sector over the past 20 years.
"The commitment and hard work pushed by market and retailer demands led to having excellent products that satisfy consumers," explains CJO manager Giampiero D'Onofrio.
But not only that. There is another important element to consider: thanks to the fact that strawberries are now cultivated in different areas, healthy fresh produce is now available all year round.
"The fruit currently available is just as nice as the summer produce. The greater temperature range means strawberries have a high Brix level."
Production cycles have also shortened and cultivation techniques have a very low environmental impact with a drastic reduction of the need for chemical products. For example, insects used to be dealt with using pesticides, while now antagonist insects are used, thus guaranteeing healthy natural fruit without affecting production.
Considering that Italian regulations on health are among the strictest on a European level, we can say the health of Italian strawberries is excellent.
Nowadays, Italian producers are increasingly choosing techniques with a low environmental impact that privilege product quality. However, management costs are considerable and there is no perfect competition model according to which product prices are determined just by the balance between demand and supply.
"The market needs to become aware of new products with a low environmental impact and of new consumption models. Segment operators need to work together for the growth of the strawberry sector and to face the real competitor - Spain."