"There are three attributes of great quality (healthiness, environmental protection and ethics), so it would be appropriate to activate institutional campaigns by the whole Italian "Strawberry System", aimed at informing and raising awareness among consumers. We want to show the commitment made by our companies on these issues, in a perspective that goes beyond individual areas". Pietro Ciardiello analyzes the prospects of the sector during the meeting of the council Italy-Spain-France.
Ciardiello starts again from the analysis of the consumer to propose strategies for the valorisation of the strawberry made in Italy. He reflects on the data processed by the Smart Reserche Institute in Milan, from which emerge positivity and negativity in the consumer/strawberry relationship.
"Strawberry is perceived as a refined and trendy fruit, it is appreciated by everyone, especially by women, and many call themselves fond of this product. With its versatile consumption, strawberries are also well suited to many diets, where they are preferred for their nutraceutical properties. For all these valuable reasons it has been seen that, in recent times, the consumption of strawberry has grown throughout Italy, even outside the home".
If it is true that the consumption of this fruit has increased, it is still too little. Ciardiello observes: "Consumers are often sceptical about their healthiness, and this leads them to stop buying. Moreover, scepticism is fuelled by several factors: for example, strawberries are believed to be strictly seasonal, or subject to many treatments; they are considered a source of allergies and the many varieties available are not known. It is precisely these issues - says Ciardiello - that must spur us on to reflect and do better and better. We need branding policies and traced products, so as to provide greater certainty to users".
"The strawberry creates a memory (good or bad) that conditions the repurchase or, on the contrary, the move to some other alternative. Taste has such a weight, that it can even affect the choice of the point of sale!"
"Overcoming the perception of "super-treated" fruit is one of the objectives that the sector must give itself. Currently, the consumption of strawberries is associated simultaneously with both the pleasure and the concern to consume a fruit that is not completely healthy. We must ensure that the product is healthier. We are counting on a strong increase in the production of organic strawberries in the coming years, in the name of environmental and social sustainability".
"It is advisable to invest not only in health, but also in the use of packaging with a low environmental impact: this will automatically mean a greater commitment to safeguarding the environment. In short, we must guarantee ever higher quality standards, in defence of Italian products".
"We aim at the seasonal adjustment of strawberries as an added value: we must explain to consumers that our Strawberry System, which extends from North to South, is able to offer strawberries almost all year round, thanks to the great variety of soil and climate conditions".
"Furthermore, we would like to remind you that consumers are also increasingly vigilant with regard to the ethical behaviour of companies and this can affect their purchasing decisions. The development and reputation of a sector also pass through policies of inclusion, respect and recognition of the work of all human resources employed in the supply chain".
"The time has also come to launch brand policies: The strawberry is still anonymous, and perhaps this is more disorienting to the consumer, in the face of a variety park that has been renewed in recent years".
"The health aspect is equally important: strawberries are among the 20 longevity foods (i.e. able to carry out preventive functions against many degenerative diseases), thanks to the high presence of Vitamin C, anthocyanins, fisetin and other antioxidant substances. By exploiting its nutraceutical properties, an awareness television campaign for strawberry could be launched throughout Italy. We could take our cue from the French, who have decided to finance from their own pockets a television campaign and other media aimed at adults and children during 2019. There is still much to do, but I am sure that Italy will become increasingly competitive in the industry if it considers the right production strategies, not forgetting to adapt supply to demand more and more.