"The garlic prices paid to producers over the past few years are so low that the entire segment is at risk. It things go on like this, many growers will start turning their attention elsewhere," reports Francesco Rastelli, a producer from Piacenza and president of the Copap cooperative.
"In order to have a decent income, garlic should pay around €1.50/kg, whereas we're currently being paid €1 or even €0.90/kg. This is not how you help the domestic sector! And it only happens because cheaper produce comes in from China and Spain."
Italy consumes around 60,000 tons of garlic but only produces half of it. Spain produces over 260 thousand tons and exports a lot to Italy. However its chain is much more mechanized and, in addition to lower labor costs, growers can use active principles prohibited by the Italian Ministry of Health.
"It doesn't make sense. It is depressing that retailers opt for the lowest value putting the domestic and foreign garlic on the same level when the latter has fewer guarantees. If we go on like this, the garlic segment risks disappearing and the Spanish or Chinese produce will be the only one available."
Despite the bad moment, Copap has created a recipe book with local dishes from Piacenza available for download at: www.copap.it