Italy: the production of organic tomatoes has almost doubled in two years

06/12/2017 - Press release , François-Xavier Branthôme - 2017 production - Read in french
162 619 tonnes of organic tomatoes in 2017, with a yield of 69 mT/ha

The Interprofessional Organisation (IO) of Northern Italy -OI 
Pomodoro da Industria del Nord Italia- wants to go further than European requirements for the cultivation and processing of organic crops: it is suggesting an "Organic Reliability Charter" that will publicize the many additional controls carried out on organic tomatoes in the north of Italy.

According to information published in a press release dated 1 December, the areas planted with organic tomatoes for the processing industry in northern Italy have almost doubled in recent years, extending from 1 316 hectares in 2015 to 2 310 ha in 2017. This trend, which confirms the growing demand for organic products, has also been identified in other sectors, and was a topic discussed during the Tomato World conference (30 November-1 December 2017) the industrial platform hosted in Piacenza by the IO.

Data for 2017 shows that the 2 310 ha of organic crops account for 6.6% of the 34 932 ha planted with processing tomatoes in northern Italy. But it is also important to note that the remainder of northern Italy's tomato production ("non-organic") is grown according to integrated production methods featuring the reduced use of pesticides in order to provide consumers with a product that is not only high quality, but also healthy and sustainably grown.

In 2017, the twenty companies involved in the northern Italy's organic tomato industry processed 162 619 metric tonnes (mT), based on a yield of 69 tonnes per hectare.
 In 2017, the main province for organic production was Ferrara, with 1500.07 hectares,
followed by the provinces of Ravenna (350.25 ha), Parma (184.41 ha), Piacenza (76.43 ha),
Reggio Emilia (45.83 ha), Mantua (37.47 ha), Bologna (35 ha), Verona (25.94 ha),
Cremona (16.41 ha), with the remaining provinces of northern Italy totaling 38.41 hectares.

The Organic Reliability Charter proposed by President Rabboni
"The organic market is growing rapidly and will continue to grow," according to Tiberio Rabboni, the current president of the Pomodoro da Industria del Nord Italia IO. "At the inception of this project, there was a cultural consideration. Lifestyles change and there is a growing focus on the health aspects of what consumers eats. The growth of this market is likely to be impeded by only one obstacle: the distribution of fake organic products. Just a few such incidents could undermine the credibility of the entire industry and jeopardize consumer trust. This is why it is crucial to make organic products as reliable as possible."
From this point of view, the organic tomato processing industry in northern Italy can already boast to markets and end-consumers of a complete control system, with a series of verifications and analyses found in no other food industry, either in Italy or abroad.

These extra checks put in place by the industry are not generally widely known. This is why a Reliability Charter has been suggested, in order to demonstrate the many extra controls that are carried out on the crops of northern Italy. This is a major tool that will be promoted by the IO and for which all industry players will be directly responsible. Mr. Rabboni has explained that this charter will give the general public and the markets a relevant insight into how the tomato industry functions, with growers joining forces to form POs, processing companies that determine the exact volumes of organic tomatoes grown, advisory and support structures that help companies to completely comply with organic methodology for their entire production, and the implementation of systematic controls and analyses throughout the production process, from the field to the end product, well beyond the regulatory requirements for obtaining European certification for organic products.
From left to right, participants in the Tomato World convention hosted by the IO:
Gorino Lupi, Paolo Gazza, Guido Conforti, Giuseppe Romanini, Tiberio Rabboni,
Lorenzo Mantelli, Gabriele Canali, Francesco Scocozza and Marzio Andrea Olgiati.

This industry-initiated approach is singularly appropriate in these final months of 2017, as Jean-Baptiste Malet publishes the results of his inquiry into the worldwide tomato processing industry, sold in France under the title "L’Empire de l’Or Rouge” and in Italy under the title “Rosso Marcio” (Piemme publishing). This publication, which paints our industry in an unfavorable light, exposes the dealings of a few unscrupulous companies and has already caused a wave of distrust regarding tomato products throughout French and European consumers.

Sources: Pomodoro Nord Italia IO

Some complementary data
Evolution of the various categories of organic processing tomatoes in northern Italy over the past five years.
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