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Claudio Gamberini

Italy: New retail tendencies for Conad

Claudio Gamberini (in the photo), national Fresh Produce Manager for Conad, explains about new tendencies of European retail.

"For us, the fresh fruit and vegetable section must be perceived by consumers as the Conad section i.e. we must sell a Conad product that is well distinguished from the rest and stresses the value of those who work in such section. We in fact consider the human factor essential. Currently, our Private Label represents 30% of the total, but our objective is to reach 50% in the next two years," explains the manager.

"Except for bananas and pineapples, 93-94% of our supply is produced domestically. We only get produce from abroad if the Italian one is not good. On average, in one of our 1,000 sq m stores, there is a good assortment, e.g. 10-15 varieties of apples and 7.8 varieties of tomatoes. There are also products that are available throughout the year like pineapples, bananas, apples and grapes, almost all of the vegetables, the fresh-cut range and dried fruit. As regards display, 80% is CPR crates and the remaining 20% is made up of cardboard or other material."



"In the case of bananas, Conad does not have its own ripening centres, but rather uses those of its suppliers. Supply is segmented, as we sell the leading brand - Chiquita - as well as Qualità Conad and in some cases Fairtrade and/or Organic produce too. Just like in the UK and the Netherlands, bananas are considered a commodity product in Italy. The same happens for other products with fragmented supply like peaches or oranges."

Innovation
"Italy is a producer country, so sometimes consumers associate innovation with GM, that is why we introduce new products only every once in a while, like we did for seedless grapes or flat peaches. The fresh-cut range is the first category as regards vegetables, whereas fresh fruit salads remain niche products. Ready-to-eat dishes are not very successful."



"Things are more complicated for what concerns ready-to-eat fruit. Abroad this formula revolves around avocados and mangos, but it is not very easy for us, as there is the risk that peaches rotten on the shelf. We are working on as ripe as possible produce for summer fruit, which we will call Selezionato da Conad."

Just like the main European retailers, Conad is interested in developing direct procurement programmes, but "we need importers because it is not our job. We are distributors, we create brands and establish prices, but we do not supply services."



"The next step will be to work on is the direct relationship with seed companies to programme the supply of some products. Currently Italian retailers represent 55% of the market share, so we are still behind with respect to foreign competitors, but we will work on it."

The last comment is on the increasing market share of discount stores. "We want to contrast the growth of discount stores rationalising our assortment, segmenting it and making it easier to understand for consumers, all the while improving the quality/price ratio."

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