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Radicchio di Treviso applies for Pdo mark

"When we started in 1996, I would have never imagined a statue dedicated to radicchio," says Cesare Bellò, Managing Director of OPO Veneto, one of the fathers of the PGI mark and Vice-President of Consorzio di Tutela del Radicchio rosso di Treviso Igp e del Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco Igp. 

We are in Rio San Martino, one of the municipalities between the provinces of Padua, Venice and Treviso, approved by the specification and one of the stops in the road show organised as part of the European campaign to promote Pgi radicchio from Treviso.

Click here for the FreshPlaza gallery.

Cesare Bellò, Managing Director OPO Veneto and Vice-President of Consorzio di Tutela del Radicchio rosso di Treviso Igp e del Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco Igp.

In the main square of Rio San Martino, there is a statue dedicated to radicchio. The 35th Fair of Radicchio from Treviso will be held in a venue named Pala Radicchio for the occasion. It is the first of a series of events that will take place all over the production area from now until February.

"The events have been organised to promote food tourism. It is a way to create a system to support our leading product. Our consumers consider our radicchio a high-quality product grown in a high-quality environment." The aim of the campaign is to make people more aware of the connection between Pgi radicchio from Treviso and its production territory.

Late radicchio from Treviso is whitened using only water from Sile.

The Consortium also aims at safeguarding the environment as, "consumers are going beyond the Pgi mark. The fact that organic produce has grown so much is the proof of that. Organic products are growing, thanks to their connection with their environment. This goes beyond the fresh produce world, just think about Volkswagen - sales dropped for the first month after the scandal came out. This is due to the environmental sentiment, which is rooted in evolved consumers."

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The heart of radicchio is reborn during whitening.

"To help our radicchio, we got in touch with the Italian Ministry for Agricultural Policy to obtain the Pdo mark. We were aiming for it already when we filed the first time in 1996 but, at the time, we were told vegetables could not obtain the Pdo mark. Then we found out it was being granted all over Europe. The time has now come to reapply for it."

Radicchio cleaning. Up to 70% of what harvested is removed.

"We would like to reach 4 thousand hectares (late radicchio from Treviso and variegated chicory from Castelfranco). In addition to increasing our production, this would mean we managed to make consumers happy too, as we must not forget we live in a system dominated by supply and demand". This is also the reason behind all the promotion and communication initiatives put in place by the Consortium.

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Radicchio roots are pollarded. 

To reach final consumers, retailers are very important. "It is essential to promote local produce. Either your product is available in stores, or there is little you can do."

Radicchio ready to be packaged. It is small because it is rather early. 

"We have always collaborated with retailers, because OPO Veneto started in 1975 as a local trader. We have then developed a philosophy based on a direct relationship with final clients, which are the ones who decide the destiny of our products in the end. This is why we understand what modern distribution is requiring, we know they have to deal with consumers too."

"Of course it wasn't easy to talk to retailers - with some chains, we had to fight to make them understand that, to save precious days of shelf-life, they needed to teach companies what they wanted rather than centralising operations. In addition, ten years ago, retailers did not see the Pgi mark as added value. I need to thank agricultural organisations, which have transmitted the value of local produce to people. Now everything has changed, so much so that Coop Italia has included Pgi radicchio from Treviso in its Fior Fiore brand."

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Pgi radicchio from Treviso packed for retail.

"Our market is mainly in central-northern Italy, although we can ship radicchio all over Italy. Part of our production is exported to Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and even Japan. Most of the produce is destined for the catering industry - volumes are small, but they are important as they spread the knowledge as regards these products."
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