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The concerns of Maurizio Filippi of Fruitimprese

Kiwis: Italy caught between New Zealand and Greece

The Italian green kiwi is right in the middle of a ‘cross-fire’: on one hand, the New Zealand produce is showing incredible results thanks to the monopoly regime and an aggressive marketing strategy that aims at excellence; on the other hand, Greece is carrying out a ‘low-price’ strategy. Maurizio Filippi is the kiwi coordinator for Fruitimprese at the Interprofessional Table Ortofrutta Italia. He voiced some concerns regarding the situation.

“I have the impression that we Italians are allowing our competitors to get better. My question is: what national strategy do we have for the green kiwi? If we look at the 2018/19 data thus far, we notice that the quantities are the same as last year, yet the prices are way lower. According to CSO's data, we harvested 331.000 tons in 2017, and 333.000 tons in 2018. However, the prices were lower”.

At the end of December 2018, the Italian green kiwi was marketed for 1.14 euros/kg on average for the size 30, while it was marketed for 1.50 euros/kg in December 2017. Filippi is very much concerned that Italy does not have a proper strategy and therefore it is playing the game of the competitors.

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“Zespri purchases our best green productions and puts many constraints to the producers. From the company’s perspective, this is a good strategy as it reinforces its leadership over time. Italy is the biggest producing country in the world, yet we let other nations to market our best produce”.

The expert is afraid that the green kiwi Made in Italy will be crushed by New Zealand on one hand, and by Greece on the other hand. “The Greek produce has a definitely lower price than ours as its production costs are cheaper”.

“If, on one hand, New Zealand markets its produce for 7 months and then markets Italian produce for other 5 months, Greece, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly stronger thanks to its low-price kiwi, the quality of which is constantly improving. How can we Italians stand out in the market if we cannot boast either quality or price?”.

The current situation, of course, is a consequence of past mistakes. Therefore, Italian operators as well have to take responsibility for the present state of things. For a long time, in spite of the national regulations, unripe kiwis were harvested and marketed thus detaching the customers. The lack of homogeneity, brands and supply fragmentation constitute another weak point of the Italy system.

“New Zealand took advantage of the moment dominating the markets through uniformity and goodness of its produce, which is supplied by Italian producers themselves for few months per year! Important structures which compete against themselves and against all the Italian produce, by supplying Zespri”.

Maurizio Filippi, owner of Commercio Frutta di Forlì and Fruitimprese referent for the kiwi

Filippi points out that “when other countries will reach a good qualitative level at lower prices, New Zealander operators will turn to them thus further increasing the competition for Italian produce. It is true that they only take a little percentage of our total harvest, but they always take the best part thus improving their reputation globally”.

Is there a solution? Filippi hopes so: “We should be aware of the seriousness of the situation and act accordingly all together, without leaving the marketing to others on our behalf”.

It is also important to establish firm quality standards that people must respect. “It is necessary to find commercial agreements, to group companies thus reducing the number of Italian businesses that sold their produce mainly thinking of ‘winning the market’ instead of caring for its improvement”.

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Filippi concludes, “I think that roundtables will be organised in the context of Ortofrutta Italia in order for the organisation to exercise its power to change the future for the better”.

Info:
Maurizio Filippi
Email: info@commerciofrutta.com


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