Soft fruit production in full swing

The soft fruit market has been characterized by high-quality produce with a few problems when it comes to gross saleable production due to market prices. The Covid-19 emergency has led to a drop in demand, but things should go back to normal over the next few days. FreshPlaza talked about it with Sant'Orsola general director Matteo Bortolini.

FreshPlaza (FP): How did you organize to face the emergency?
Matteo Bortolini (MB): We needed to guarantee the safety of our operators. We asked our personnel to be involved and collaborate. Those who could worked from home, the others took measures not to put their colleagues at risk. We managed to carry on working thanks to the large outside areas of the facility inaugurated two years ago. 

The entrance of the new Sant'Orsola facility

FP: Where is the fruit coming from at the moment?
MB: Production is in full swing in Sicily, Calabria and Veneto and some areas in Trentino are also getting started.

FP: How was harvesting in southern Italy so far?
MB: Both the partners and the company are pleased with quantities and quality. Unfortunately, the pandemic penalized the economic result of a campaign that had actually started well. 

Matteo Bortolini at the company stand during Fruit logistica 2020

FP: What about demand and prices?
MB: The lockdown is affecting both the company and our partners. Despite the gradual reopenings, the halt and the new rules will have an effect for a long time. The closing down of all tourist and restaurant businesses affected wholesale markets in particular. March was generally characterized by a drop in consumption due to the fact consumers were rather confused, they had not found their balance when it came to supplies yet. Things improved after Easter with good volumes, though penalized by lower prices. Volumes are finally picking up in wholesale markets as well.

FP: What are the perspectives for harvesting in central Italy? 
MB: The workforce problem is real, it is not just a question of redirecting workers from the tourist sector to the agricultural sector. The number may not be enough anyway and we are also talking about people used to other kinds of activities. So far, the Trentino Work Agency has made a list of people available and we recommend our partners to get in touch with them to find workers. 

FP: Is there any news when it comes to varieties, packaging, new markets?
MB: Last November, everyone was looking for sustainable packaging solutions to reduce or replace plastic. We understood that drastic or radical change is not itself sustainable and developed new ideas during this period. Depending on how things will go, we will see whether to introduce them later in the season or next year.

FP: Are there new markets on the horizon?
MB: The pandemic has blocked everything until we will be able to meet again. This year we will promote the raspberry and strawberry varieties patented in 2019, which received good feedback from other producers on an international level.  

Sant'Orsola Soc. Coop. Agricola
Via per Trento 11/e
38057 Pergine Valsugana (TN)
Tel.: (+39) 0461 518111

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