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Italy: Pgi new carrots are PEF's flagship product, but there's more ...

The Sicilian spring carrot season is in full swing after a winter characterised by frost and abundant rainfall, especially in the south-east of the region.

We talked to Massimo Pavan from PEF Srl, one of the leading carrot producers and traders in Italy, to better understand the situation. 

"Let's start with Sicily where, according to the specification of Consorzio della Carota Novella di Ispica IGP, commercialisation can be carried out between 15th February and 20th June. We asked the Ministry to start harvesting from the beginning of February, as the changes in the climate would enable us to start the season two weeks earlier. We are hoping to get an answer soon."

Pef was established in 1980 as a subsidiary of Gruppo Peviani. There are two facilities, one in Chioggia and one in Ispica, and both processing centres hold the Ifs GlobalGAP and Grasp certifications.

Carrots are processed in the Ispica facility between February and May. Pgi new carrots are cultivated on 150 hectares. They are particularly sweet and crunchy and always a favourite with consumers. Thanks to one of the largest plants in the sector, the company can package around 200 tons of carrots a day, which are cooled thanks to 2 hydrocoolers that considerably lengthen the shelf-life.

"Unlike elsewhere in Europe, there are no carrot storage facilities in Italy. They are used to place summer carrots in cold storage units for 6-8 months depending on market needs and are useful in areas where fresh carrots are not available all year round. After storing them, carrots are brushed to make them look like fresh carrots."

Of course, organoleptic properties are nowhere near those of fresh carrots.

Above and below: Pef cares about the environment. Most of the water used during processing is filtered and recycled and, thanks to a large photovoltaic plan, the company can self-produce all the energy it needs, so its CO2 emissions are close to zero.

Though carrots remain the company's core business, other products have also been introduced, such as mini-watermelons, courgettes (1,500 tons) and tomatoes (2,000 tons among which the famous Pomodoro di Pachino IGP.

The Chioggia facility
In Chioggia, the facility managed by Massimo's brother Roberto produces and commercialises winter and summer carrots. The production area reaches the low Ferrara area, where the soil is sandy and particularly suitable for growing long elegant carrots. Harvesting of the 130 hectares starts in early May and ends early August. Winter carrots are cultivated on 50 hectares between October and February.

Another flagship product of Pef Chioggia is red radicchio, which is grown in Veneto. Around 3,000 tons of produce are commercialised all over Europe every year. In addition, the company is part of the Consorzio del Radicchio di Chioggia IGP.

Recognising Chioggia's strategic position for the European market and in a context of strong development, on 25th March Pef inaugurated the new offices of the Chioggia facility. 

Inauguration of the new Pef offices in Chioggia 

A plaque dedicated to Cav. Eugenio Ennio Pavan, founder member of Pef Srl who recently passed away, was also uncovered (see photo below).

Every year, Pef produces approximately 20,000 tons, 70% of which are destined for export. The rest is destined to Italian retailers, H&R and the processing industry.

The new offices in Chioggia

"High-quality, food safety and quick answers to an ever-evolving market are the core objectives of our company. It is difficult to survive in this sector without a product with added value. Another important factor is working as a team with other local companies, so as to further promote the local production and make the sector grow. Fair competition is essential, as it is the only way to stand up to the bigger brands."

"We have also created a good team, focused on the achievement of our objectives. They truly care about the company as if it was their own and we try to work together, as we are convinced it's the only way to reach the best results."

For further information:
Pef Srl
Administration and production and packaging facility
Via P.E. Venturini, 248
30015 Chioggia (VE)
Tel.: (+39) 041 491544
Fax: (+39) 041 5541337

Production ad packaging facility
C.da Garzalla
97014 Ispica (RG)
Tel.: (+39) 0932 951822
Fax: (+39) 0932 952801


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