According to COF President Francesco Barbieri, not everything is positive for the Italian fresh-cut sector, especially in the bagged salad segment. He feels we should not only look at the turnover from sales when looking to balance the books. "We should consider everything that led to this result. If we only focus on income, we won't have those margins we used to get in the 1990s and early 2000s."

In the past few years, in fact, "everybody focused on who had the highest turnover and implemented crazy marketing strategies, focused solely on prices. Nobody thought about focusing on other factors, such as promotion and advertising, which would have had very different results without causing the current situation."

According to the President, the erosion of margins is a direct responsibility of the sector. COF, a producer and distributor of fresh-cut products under the "Ortomania" brand, is trying to react by discussing with retailers how to promote and introduce its innovation and communication policies. One of the first meetings was with CONAD.

The COF-CONAD meeting.

In the meantine, 2016 is proving to be quite positive for COF, though the President stresses that it is not the turnover that matters but rather "the margins. Our company has a turnover of €40 million but that means nothing in isolation."

The foreign market and future challenges for 2017
Francesco Barbieri: "After the implementation of the Russian ban I would have to say that the foreign market is not as important. We are anyway trying to work with foreign companies on ideas that go beyond traditional strategies."

"I see many challenges in 2017. We are implementing a diversification and differentiation policy and focusing on innovation."

The new entry Insalabella

A new salad, with Italian fresh Goji berries, called Insalabella, was launched a few days ago.

"Feedback was great but, just like for all new fresh-cut products, it must be supported by precise support strategies in coordination with the various purchasing managers. Ingredients are important up to a certain point to stand out on the market. If consumers appreciate the product, then interesting figures can be obtained but at times fresh produce section managers do not promote new products well or long enough, so consumer needs are not met." 

"All the more reason to set up meetings with the sector and introduce our company and our programmes."

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