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Italy: US phytosanitary barriers about to open for Italian apples and pears

"A positive experience, we worked well together and there is the interest and the will to carry on with this project - all the preconditions are there for the programme to end well," commented Simona Rubbi (in the photo), manager for the new markets of Ferrara's Cso-Centro servizi ortofrutticoli, on the recent visit paid by a US phytosanitary inspector to the apple and pear plants and processing structures in Emilia-Romagna, Trento and Bolzano.

"It's an experimental project, so it has reduced volumes, though it will be enough to obtain the trust of the US, as they know we have safe and high quality produce as we already export kiwis, citrus fruit and table grapes."

The inspection concerned Fruit Modena Group and Gruppo Salvi in Emilia-Romagna for pears, especially for the Abate variety, and Melinda in Trentino for Golden Delicious, Gala and Granny Smith apples. "The initial companies assume various risks and commitments. In fact, a US inspector has to carry our a preclearance visit, which of course has its costs."

The USDA preclearance procedure eases the exports of fruit and vegetables thanks to a workplan created for the problems of a specific country or product, so the produce that needs to be shipped to the US has been pre-approved in Italy.

Now we just have to define the last details of the workplan together - which should be completed between July and August -with the national phytosanitary service and the producers, and wait for the confirmation from the US. We will probably start in October once the procedure ends and we will have permission to import. The objective is to sell a limited amount of high-quality produce in the big cities of the East Coast.

The Cso, Assomela, Mipaaf, the embassies in Rome, the Phytosanitary services in Emilia-Romagna and Trentino Alto Adige and all of the technical consulting bodies were involved. 

Alessandro Dalpiaz, director of Assomela, declared that, "we wish for the workplan to be completed soon. The inspector complimented us on the organisation of the visit, thanks to which he was able to assess our teamwork and witness the Italian commitment."

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