CO.RA Srl from Mazzarrone (CT) is located in one of the most interesting territories for table grape production in Italy with around 12,000 hectares in total. FreshPlaza interviewed administrator Salvatore Consoli.
How would you describe the current international table grape market?
"Last year we had cracking time while, this year, we are having commercial problems. Before the arrival of table grapes from Egypt, we could take advantage of the window between late May and early June to make up for any problem during the previous campaign as, basically, we had the monopoly of the Mediterranean area. Things have now changed and there is a lot of competition: the only way to stand out is the intrinsic value of our produce grown following the best Italian tradition."
In order to grow, one needs to assess new opportunities such as new sales channels, markets and technologies. What do you think?
"We strengthen the markets we already have and add new ones. Central and northern Europe have been our main destinations for years and, more recently, we have even reached North America. We regularly process orders headed overseas and those from the Middle East, where our products are mostly requested by the high end of the market, are increasing."
"Having clients of a certain level means not having to deal with the war over a few cents, offering high-value products like only we can. We have just finished a mission in the UAE where we have established a fruitful relationship with one of the leading importers in the region."
"After all, everyone is now growing table grapes, not only in the Mediterranean basin: we need to deal with productions from South America (mainly Chile) and Australia. Losing the Russian market due to the ban (2014) hit us heavily."
What is the challenge for the next few years?
"Quality is the most important thing as it is our opportunity to grow. At least we are favored by our unique soil and weather conditions but, to improve, we need to rely on scientific research and technological innovation in cooperation with Universities and research bodies. The challenge for the next few years will be to tackle climate change and keep consumers informed as regards our high production standards. High-quality needs to be promoted, otherwise we will be put together with the less-interesting products. Varietal innovation and sustainability are also important: in Italy, for example, respect for the environment and food security are never optional."