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Giovanni Gullino

"Italy: "Being large is not enough, we need to be the best"

The Gullino import-export company owns two large warehouses, Sole and Cielo. The first is the main one, where Gullino produce is processed whereas the second, inaugurated in 2014, is dedicated to the packaging of Zespri fruit.

"We have around 350 hectares of kiwi orchards in Latina and around a hundred in Piedmont. One of our warehouses is a terminal for Zespri shipments to Europe and over 3/4 of our production is organic," explains Giovanni Gullino, general and sales manager.

A soft fruit
"In the past few years, we have been focusing a lot on the 'Kiwi d'Or' brand - we guarantee fruit that has a soft core, because we harvest it only when it has reached certain parameters and characteristics."

"On 2nd December 2015, we still had to harvest 70 hectares in Latina and the produce had a Brix level between 9 and 11. The fruit ripens on the tree and is then stored so that it can reach the best texture."

Gullino works with around 500 producers all over Italy and is the largest private company at a national level. "But it is not enough, you just need to buy more produce in order to be big. We want to be the best. Our technicians advise the producers directly so they can grow fruit according to our specifications. This year, we worked very well with Green Light kiwis and volumes are now ending. Despite the low price, the fruit sold well. The processing of Hayward kiwis started around November 10th."

This year though, there were grade problems. "We intervened directly on fields, thinning the trees for three times. Luckily it worked and we managed to obtain big grades."

There were no production problems and actually, after years in which bacteriosis damaged the product, quality was good. This though meant prices dropped. "At the moment, many producers prefer to hold on to the fruit and wait for better times to obtain better prices. Of course only those with good storage units can do that."

Greece - a fearsome competitor

In addition to an increased domestic production, competition from Greece is also a problem.

"They have lower production costs and their specifications are not as strict, so they can be more competitive. In the past few years, with less produce available because of the bacteriosis, Italy increased the prices as it hoped to support quotations. But it is not as easy this year." 

"Greece was not affected by bacteriosis and, over the years, managed to acquire new distribution channels. We would like to regain our position on the market, but the Greek produce is already there. We need to remind everyone that our fruit is available between October and June, not just from March onwards."

"We need to defend our position while trying to improve our quality and establishing some agreements with retailers. Last year our prices were high but this time we can be more competitive."

According to Giovanni Gullino, it is important to remind everyone that Italy can provide additional services, so people cannot just think "I am not going to buy Italian fruit because it is more expensive. Italian producers have a lengthier experience and this cannot be overlooked because now Greek kiwis are available too!"

"We need to prevent Greece from doing what Spain did with peaches, we must be better competitors, even though we may not gain much from it in the short term."

Gullino's foreign market

At the moment, Gullino ships kiwis to Tesco in the UK and some volumes are also sent over to the US, Canada, India and Dubai.

"We are now finishing with Soreli golden kiwis, which we have sent all the way to Hong Kong and we are also finishing European stocks with Germany, the Netherlands and Northern Europe."

The Hayward season is just starting.

"It is a difficult period for kiwis and we cannot expect clients to come and find us or wait for our competitors to occupy all sales channels."

"Last but not least, Europe is going through a difficult period and, after the Paris attacks, less volumes are being shipped as consumption dropped a little in some sectors like the catering industry."

Gullino Import-Export S.r.l.

S.S. 589 Laghi di Avigliana, 8/A
12037 Saluzzo (CN)

Author: Emanuela Fontana

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