Trends in post-lockdown

The ready-to-eat segment is declining in Italy but booming in northern Europe

"The request for ready-to-eat products in the period from March to July has significantly decreased by about 30%. On the other hand, the demand coming from Northern Europe, and in particular from Scandinavian countries, has been and remains high, to the point of contributing to 60% of our turnover. Therefore, a question arises as to why we lose so much at home and so little abroad." That is what an operator of a company with over 200 hectares of land cultivated in the Sele Plain (Campania) has been wondering about.

"Unfortunately in Italy - continued the entrepreneur - consumers have suffered economically from the lockdown, which means that between a ready-to-eat product and a traditional product (for example, a head of lettuce), they prefer the latter because it costs less. Therefore, to continue to be present on national markets, we have created a product that is already cut but not washed, which compensates for the lower appeal of the fresh-cut product on the Italian market."

Demetrio Esposito, sales manager of the OP Terramore located in Eboli (SA), analyzed the commercial trends of the fresh-cut references in the post-lockdown period and added "After a summer marked by requests lower than our crop schedule, it now seems that the demand has increased with the arrival of September. Most probably this is linked to climatic factors. The excessive rainfall in northern Italy and the intense heat in Spain have led to many problems concerning the quality of the product, hence the supply has moved to producers in southern Italy. Currently, the demand is focused on traditional products such as lettuce, endive and salads, unlike the pre-coronavirus trend."

"We are witnessing a reversal of the trend of consumption - continued Esposito - We have gone from preferring traditional references (spinach, lettuce, lettuce, escarole, baby leaf, rocket) to requesting oriental products (the most sought after, expensive, trendy and gourmet market segment). This preference is also manifested among restaurateurs. In addition, as already mentioned, it seems that the average consumer is more willing to buy the traditional lettuce (the head) rather than the ready-to-eat one, because it is the most affordable option.

"We had to develop a new strategy, as a matter of fact we have started to focus more on crop diversification, including traditional premium quality references, such as fennel, cauliflower and organic onions".

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