Following the excellent results obtained with the investments made on berries in Basilicata, Loris Gentile, founder and general director at Cooperativa Gentile Group, talks about the current situation and and growth opportunities in the Metaponto area (Basilicata - Italy).
Francesca Quinto and Loris Gentile
"Our mission is to focus mainly on exclusive products. The low investment needed and high profitability linked with the production of these fruits (raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) was the reason why we opted for them since we were already specialized and known for the production of strawberries."
"To consumers, we want to guarantee not only high quality, but an actual sensory experience. We started with a young and innovative project, as 90% of our producers is between 29 and 39 years old and employs over 100 operators. This year, we will triple sales volumes. We are currently the leading producers of berries in Basilicata and, for the next campaign, we plan on being one of the first 3 on a national level in terms of cultivated areas."
Francesca Quinto, project manager and co-founder of Gentile Group, adds that: "Fruttini italiani® is the brand registered on a European level under which we commercialize our Italian berries. The brand was very successful on the various sales channels and received positive feedback. We are pleased to say that our products will be available on the shelves of some renowned big retail chains in the fall."
Left: berries by Gentile Group. Right: producer Antonio Carlucci
Antonio Carlucci, owner of a company in Scanzano Jonico, reported that "choosing berries means obviating a series of problems that are affecting the profitability of some crops. We are stopping the production of vegetables and strawberries and going ahead with raspberries. There are fewer problems linked with the lack of labor as they can be harvested while standing. As for the problem linked the increasing cost of the investment, it is being solved by reusing the materials already employed for other crops in previous years, so also helping with environmental sustainability. After dedicating 2,500 sq m to the cultivation of raspberries during the past campaign, I have decided to double the crops."
Finally, Farina Nicola, another producer with 12 hectares of strawberries, explained that "this year, we will plant one hectare of raspberries in collaboration with Gentile Group. The objective is not just crop diversification, but also the focus on highly profitable crops. We are aware that this crop is demanding, as it needs care and awareness when it comes to techniques and varieties, but we are positive. We believe in ourselves, a team made up of young people who are looking to make it in a unique territory."