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Giovanni Raniolo (PGI Mazzarrone table grape consortium)

Italy: Better yields but poorer quality for grapes

"The Sicilian table grape campaign went well between June and August 2013, as sales were high and at good prices. Producers were satisfied," said Giovanni Raniolo (in the photo), chairman of the PGI Mazzarrone table grape consortium.

"There was 20-25% more produce than during the previous campaign but unfortunately, abundant supplies affected prices and blocked sales, in fact demand slowed down more and more in September. Quality in general was quite low and a lot of grapes are still on plants. In the last few years, campaigns ended around the end of November, beginning of December."

Raniolo stresses that bigger yields were caused by the fact that producers did not perform selection or thinning operations in order to obtain excellent produce. In this case, more bunches meant lower quality.

The current situation in vineyards.

According to the chairman of the consortium, another factor which led to this stalling situation is the quotation of produce destined for processing, which unsettled sales. "For example, grapes were being paid €0.30 in Puglia last year, whereas this year they barely reach €0.10."

This year, around 700 tonnes of PGI produce was sold, despite the same cultivated areas and associated producers. "The quantities sold under the mark are low, though each year we sell a little bit more of it, so there is scope for improvement."

The Consortium mainly sells to retailers, because of their better reliability. "Retailers do plan their campaigns very early on and do not keep the evolution of fruit production or the differences in quantities in mind. The problem is general markets are not as steady as they used to be."

Objectives for 2014
"We will have to aggregate and face retailers as a single group and interlocutor. We are also trying to diversify production, especially with early varieties so that we will not have to compete with Puglia or Greece. We will also introduce seedless grapes."

As regards the IUM Project (Innovate Mazzarrone Grapes), which will end in December 2013, Raniolo says "tests were carried out and fresh-cut products were sold in some supermarkets. Feedback has not been positive so far. I believe though, that if we work on shelf-life and nutritional education, this segment could work too. We are open to innovation and we ask for support from those more experienced."

Giovanni Raniolo - Chairman
Consorzio uva da tavola IGP di Mazzarrone

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