Three great challenges for the future of Italian fresh produce cultivation

The annual Fruitimprese assembly took place on October 22nd in Rome behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. President Marco Salvi, after remembering all the people who have lost their lives and who still suffer because of the virus and thanking the doctors and hospital staff for their work, stressed the important role played by our operators who, since the very beginning of the crisis, have worked hard to guarantee ongoing supplies of fresh products as well as the income of their employees.

Government provisions
As regards the government provisions issued since March," while we appreciate some measures such as the ones that have excluded fresh produce operators from the lockdown and the blocking of unjustified requests to certify products as Covid-free, we cannot but be disappointed by the fact that no economic assistance has been envisaged for our sector." 

Government provisions "did not manage to solve the labor crisis in summer, for which we suggested the 'German model' of an active quarantine, forcing our operators to recruit personnel from other sectors and having to pay training costs. These people have often quit, leaving the employers with the same problem and higher costs." 

Marco Salvi, national president of Fruitimprese

"As for economic assistance, we do not understand why our sector has been excluded and has also had to deal with tax credits for the expenses to purchase protective devices, which is now 28.3% but which had initially been established at 9%. Operators are excluded because they continued working during the lockdown but, at the same time, they are not being compensated for the higher production costs and expenses incurred to maintain the health measures necessary to guarantee fresh produce to consumers."

Three great challenges for the future
"The first is Brexit. Unfortunately, no positive solution is being found that pleases both parties and there are large countries like the US willing to establish trade agreements with the British that would weaken the EU for the sake of 'divide and rule'." 

"The second challenge is the 'perfect storm' concerning plastic packaging, that will take place as of January 1st 2021 save for any extensions. In addition to an increase in the CONAI environmental contribution, the plastic tax will exceed €1/kg. We are currently working with the CONAI and the Customs Agency to guarantee rebates to those who export, but we cannot deny that these changes will lead to a radical reorganization of the packaging sector. The coordination of the actors involved is essential to identify an alternative material and a type of packaging agreed upon on a national and international level, avoiding multiple alternative solutions that would lead to higher costs and uncertainty for consumers."

"The third challenge is the Farm to Fork Strategy, with which the EU wants to make the current food system more sustainable, fair and respectful of human health and the environment."

"I believe our businesses are ready to face the challenge, as they have already been working for years to reduce the use of chemical substances favoring alternative methods such as integrated pest management. What we hope is for our entrepreneurs to be made part of this green revolution, however they should be equipped with the crop protection tools essential for a sector subjected to increasing weather instability and invasions of alien species. A striking example of this is the pear brown rot, which is bringing back problems that we thought had been solved 40 years ago."

The new Board of Directors
The renewal of the Board of Directors also took place during the assembly. The following counselors were elected: Battaglio Luca, Bighelli Stefano, Campisi Giuseppe, Canalella Alessandro (new), Carpentiere Luigi, Citterio Domenico, Cosentino Sebastiano, D'Aprile Matteo, Del Core Massimiliano, Duoccio Lucio (new), Fabbri Pietro (new), Falzi Matteo, Ferri Gabriele (new), Giuliano Nicola (new), Martignago Livio, Mazzoni Luigi, Odorizzi Leonardo, Rivoira Michelangelo, Secondulfo Anna Rita (new), Torrengo Paolo (new). Ex officio counselors are: Bonomo Luca, Calcagni Giuseppe, Calcagni Riccardo, D'Avino Baldassarre, Laporta Michele, Manganaro Placido, Messina Francesco, Minguzzi Giancarlo, Neri Patrizio, Oberrauch Michael, Pagni Attilio, Peviani Luigi, Pezzo Stefano, Romagnoli Giulio, Salvi Marco, Suglia Giacomo. 

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