"Soft fruits deserve to be promoted with a brand that testifies to their high-quality, chain and traceability. This is why we will introduce a dedicated brand in February," explained Maurizio Cristoni, buyer at Conad, during the "Fragole e berries, produzione, mercato e prospettive future" (Strawberries and berries, production, market and future perspectives) convention held in Policoro (Matera) on January 16th 2020.
"We purchase around €9 million a year of soft fruit and €23 million of strawberries within a total of €831 million of fresh produce. The brand dedicated to the berry segment will also guarantee an ethical chain as well as all safety standards."
But what is an ideal produce for Conad? Cristoni was clear: "it must not just be good, as it must also have an extended shelf-life and be resistant to handling. In addition, it must be available for a long period of time. We are not interested in many varieties available for a short time, but in few varieties available for longer."
Another essential factor is represented by safety standards, which must be stricter than what prescribed by the law. This aspect is required by basically all big retail chains and often puts producers in difficulty.
The new Conad brand dedicated to berries will for now include 125 gram punnets. Last year, soft fruit sales increased by 17% for Conad against a general average of 13%.
"85% of our strawberries are of Italian origin against an average of 70% in other big retail chains. The remaining 15% also undergoes strict checks. Strawberries are sourced from abroad only when the domestic supply is not enough."