So far, 2018 was a good year for the Apoc producer organisation. "We have acquired 24 new agricultural businesses with a total turnover of €11-12 million, including new important names from the table grape segment in Puglia," explains Rosario Ferrara, director coordinator of the PO.
"Nonetheless, it's been a difficult year as industry tomato prices dropped by 16% compared to last year. The table grape segment was damaged by the climate, as the product is good, but volumes should have been higher than last year. However, 2017 was an exceptional year, so the comparison should be done with 2016, really."
Nicola De Santis, Angelo Garofano and Rosario Ferrara, respectively administration manager, president and director coordinator of Op Apoc.
Apoc does not specialize on a single product but works with 50 products. "Luckily, it wasn't a bad campaign for all products. The lower turnover generated by the table grape segment will be partly made up for by the entry of new partners. Nonetheless, a general drop in turnover will be inevitable this year."
Gregorio Paglia, sales manager of Agricola Aversana (Apoc partner) adds that "there is more attention towards high-quality and innovation, yet having competitive prices is essential, considering the increased specialization and volumes on offer nowadays."
What about generational turnover?
"We truly believe in it, so much so that company owners are always accompanied by their children, who are interested in the work of their parents."
"We welcome this, as they will continue their parents' excellent work. We believe in the new generations, so much so that we have organised many internships and events in schools."
"It is difficult to foresee what will happen in 5 years' time, as the agricultural sector is always changing. Of course we are fully committed."
Maria Romano, Domenico Franchini and Vincenzo Marra - Apoc's future generation
When asked about what generational turnover means for the company, Vincenzo Marra stated: "we feel the responsibility of what our parents have done and want to learn as much as possible. As we're young, we lack the experience and need a lot of training." Maria Romano added that the company and her family are essential for the future. Domenico Franchini stressed that he's trying to learn as much as possible: "I'd like to carry on what my parents have done for me and for my siblings."
What went wrong in the industry tomato campaign?
"The weather, that's what went wrong. However, it did us a favor too, as it reduced quantities and made it possible for the preserve market to recover. Tomatoes in white packaging in 3kg per pallet are sold at €7.50," commented Angelo Garofano.
"Still, we need to deal with the lower yields. The first producers to harvest were strongly penalized by both yields and prices, while those who harvested later at least had slightly higher profits. We achieved 87% of what planned and, compared to last year, we have 30,000 tons less available."
An improvement is expected for next year. "There are 20% more crops, so the situation should go back to normal. One thing to consider is that, if over 5 million tons are sent to the processing industry, there will inevitably be a crisis. It's a matter of consumption and everything that goes with it. This year, 4.6 million tons were processed in total."
When it comes to the online auctions initiated by a few discount chains, Garofano points out that there are fair distributors that maintain normal prices. "There is a difference between 'good' and 'bad' retailers, too: there are those who want to take advantage of producers and those who respect them."
Part of the Apoc team at Fruit Attraction 2018.
Fruit Attraction: an opportunity to get noticed
"The fair is a perfect occasion to get noticed and get to know businesses. It's an opportunity to grow and to meet trusted and potential clients," concluded Paglia.
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