"The biggest emergency we are facing at the moment is the skyrocketing cost of raw materials. Plastic has increased by 30 per cent, which had an impact on our investments leading to higher costs for greenhouses and raw materials needed for the packaging. In addition, transportation costs have been rising every year now, and the cost of iron is also showing significant increases," explained Alfonso Altamura, president of the Italian producers' organization Op Altamura and member of the board of the Consorzio di Tutela della Rucola IGP (Consortium for the Preservation of the Rocket Lettuce PGI).
"Right when we start seeing a small recovery, we are faced with an exponential increase in costs, which is reducing margins to a minimum, heavily impacting this year's budget. Fortunately, most of our trading partners abroad are aware that these increases do not depend on us and are showing willingness to help us. The reason for this is that the focus is now on quality rather than on the price."
Alfonso Altamura, president of Op Altamura and member of the board of the Consortium for the Preservation of the Rocket Lettuce PGI.
The baby leaf market is currently stable, with no particular fluctuations. "The production campaign is in full swing and, in the coming weeks, the extreme high temperatures could have a negative effect on the production yields, but these are all predictable events of the season, which we attempt to handle with appropriate measures."
"We are still in a start-up phase with the rocket lettuce PGI. There is a lot of interest from our customers at the moment, especially in the Italian market. As for abroad, we need a serious communication plan, and we hope that trade exhibitions can help us," continued the board member of the Consortium for the Preservation of the Rocket Lettuce PGI.
(Photo provided by Op Altamura)
Op Altamura's 2020 budget was more or less in line with its 2019 budget. "We were able to keep losses to a minimum, which unfortunately slowed down our growth and all the projects we had in the pipeline. The first quarter of 2021 was slightly more positive than the first quarter of 2020, because there has not been that same market shock recorded at the outbreak of the pandemic. Even though we are still in an emergency, we have higher revenues, which has allowed to plan ahead, despite everything.
There are certainly some small signs of recovery. "Thank above all to the reopening of the Ho.Re.Ca sector in all the main European countries. We are still a long way away from pre-coronavirus normality. We hope that the vaccinations will soon allow us to get back on our feet again, encouraging international mobility and tourism. “
(Photo provided by Op Altamura)
New projects for 2021 There are two important innovations that Op Altamura will be announcing in September. "There will be innovations in two new projects, both in terms of product and process. Our marketing department is also working on the trade exhibitions sector. We will be attending Fruit Logistica 2022 next February and we will decide on a last-minute basis whether to take part in Fruit Attraction in Madrid and TuttoFood in Milan," explained Altamura.
Quality and environment Op Altamura already has a photovoltaic system that produces 650 kW of renewable energy. "We are replacing old agricultural machinery, especially harvesters, with electric machines. We have switched from Euro 3 to Euro 6 tractors. We have a micro-irrigation and drip irrigation system which allows us to optimize the use of the water. We are replacing the plastic covers, which normally have to be changed every three to five years, with stronger ones for a lower environmental impact," concluded the president of the growers' organization.