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Table grape campaign better than expected

"The demand/supply ratio has been more balanced during the second week of July. The superior flavor and quality of our grapes enable us to follow the various harvesting cycles - from the coast to inland areas - at a sustained rhythm for both producers and packagers. This way, consumers can count on produce that is always fresh, ripe and ready to be used. Despite the heat in the production areas and the cold and rain in the leading markets in central and northern Italy, demand and supply are harmonious. The adverse weather has not affected consumption, also thanks to two essential factors: produce with a Brix level above those of other years (17-18 degrees) and slightly lower prices (by 10/20 eurocents). Consumers can eat tastier fruits while paying them less, so they purchase more," reports Calogero Montana, Ceo of Montana Groupe.

Calogero Montana

"We are currently harvesting the Victoria and Black Magic varieties, which are much appreciated by consumers in France and in the rest of Europe. Prices are slightly lower than 2020, with production prices hovering around -15%. However we have no losses, we have been harvesting and commercializing everything."

"To those who say Covid affected consumption, I reply that the only substantial change was that concerning packaging, which has gone back to being of the protective type. Consumers tend to prefer products no one can touch, so we needed to invest in fully-sustainable closed packaging solutions."

"There is a lot of confusion when it comes to quality. The organic segment keeps growing, though it remains a minor part compared to the traditional and integrated segments. On the other hand, retailers are looking for low residues, while checks often find discrepancies, so it can be tricky to find the right balance. Maybe producers and retailers should cooperate more: agronomists should have a bigger role."

"The true enemy of our Sicilian and Italian productions is not foreign competition, but the lack of infrastructures (roads, highways, railways) and the low-performing logistics. Competition is based on cost and timing: due to its geographic configuration, Italy is penalized when it comes to transport from the south (where the produce is grown) to the rest of Europe (where it is mostly consumed). But seeing that the geographic position - which is due to nature - is unfavorable is one thing, while seeing that the situation is made worse by an obsolete road network is another. The competent bodies should do something about it."

"Another sore point in this period is the excessive increase in the cost of raw materials, which is greatly affecting our current and future investments. We need to go back to focusing on Europe, even though productions may end up costing more. Profit is not everything! Having health, agricultural, building materials available often makes the difference between life and death. China has a firm hold on us. It is very difficult to continue doing business with sudden price changes and non deliveries, as they make us unreliable in the eyes of our clients."

Finally, Montana briefly discussed the production problems caused by the heat. "The high temperatures continue to cause problems, especially in Sicily. It is not so much a question of drought, but rather the impossibility of irrigating all our crops at the same time. As labor is also lacking, it is difficult to maintain the shifts. I think the so-called 'citizenship income' should be reconsidered and made more effective and useful for the community." 


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