"In Italy, fresh-cut products were introduced 15 years ago and became very popular. We are the second consumers in Europe and the penetration rate is 80% against, for example, Germany with 30%. The segment generates a turnover of €800 million," explains Gianfranco D'Amico (in the photo), CEO for Bonduelle Italia and President of AIIPA (Associazione Italiana Industrie Prodotti Alimentari). "Nonetheless, things seem to have calmed down this year and the trend is not as positive as last year." 

Bonduelle seems to be the exception, as its turnover reached €130 million (14% of the market) in the last fiscal year. "Our growth was due to a strategy focusing on quality as, with consumers paying 20% more than for other bags, the products inside must be exceptional." And it seems to have worked - in June 2016, the company registered a 7% increase with respect to the same month in the previous year."

The Bonduelle Italia facility in San Paolo d'Argon. From the number of processing line we can see how significant investments are needed to work in the fresh-cut sector. 

"We wanted some regulations to reassure consumers regarding the quality of our products, as there are 180 producers on the market. At the moment, there is no definition of what can be defined as a fresh-cut product and what cannot. At least, the regulation entered into force in August, establishes three requirements - produce must be stored at a constant temperature, it must be washed at least twice and packets must have a 'washed and ready to eat' label."

"Lately, though, similar products, like soups and vegetable burgers, are becoming increasingly popular, and that's our competition. Some are trying to create different types of salad mixes and others are focusing on advanced vegetables. Our range of InPausa soups reached a turnover of €7 million less than in the year after it was launched."

"In this line of business, you need to understand what consumers are demanding and you need to always do better. However, the more complicated the process, the higher the skills needed, and not everyone can afford that."