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Italy 2018: 60 627 ha planted, down 5.9% compared to last year
On 25 July, the ANICAV (Associazione Nazionale Industriali Conserve Alimentari Vegetali) met with Italy's new Minister of Agriculture, Gian Marco Centinaio, in order to talk through the critical situation of structural problems affecting the processing tomato industry and to define with the government an efficient plan to relaunch the tomato-growing sector.
The ANICAV underlined the importance of this sector which, with a total turnover of EUR 3.1 billion and a share of the export market amounting to EUR 1.6 billion, is one of Italy's main quality food industries.
This year, 60 626.80 hectares of processing tomatoes were planted in Italy, which is 5.9% less than in 2017. This decrease has been recorded in both the South Central region (particularly around Foggia), where planted surfaces have dropped 8%, and in the northern part of the country, where surfaces have dropped 5%.
"Tomatoes are one of the symbols of 'Made in Italy' quality throughout the world, and it is necessary to consolidate policies for integrating agriculture and processing," declared Senator Gian Marco Centinaio, the Minister of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Tourism. "This sector is certainly one of the most productive and important sectors of the Italian food industry. [...] It is necessary to provide a new impetus for this activity as quickly as possible by implementing programs to protect and improve recognition of the quality of Italian tomatoes. We will be working with regional authorities and industry representatives, not only faster, but also with a new approach to crop programming."
Many topics were mentioned in the conversation with the minister: the persistent attacks on tomato origins, the legends surrounding Chinese tomatoes in the plates of Italian consumers, the caporalato issue, the question of fake food labels, environmental issues and protectionist policies, which are being planned or are already implemented in a number of countries. According to ANICAV President Antonio Ferraioli, "a lot of attention has been paid to the importance of setting up interbranch authorities for the tomato processing sector which, in addition to promoting approaches that contribute to better integration of the industry and to improvements in products, but also be able to ensure detailed programming and concerted planning, whilst guaranteeing compliance with rules and signed agreements."
For the Pomodoro Nord IO, it is indeed essential that an interbranch organization also be set up for the South Central region, which is currently still awaiting formal recognition by Ministry services.
"Furthermore, added Ferraioli, a strong focus has been put on the need to improve premium productions, like peeled tomatoes, which are a symbol of 'Made in Italy' quality around the world, for which PGI protection recognition has been requested, hopefully leading to increased demand from consumers and a better performance on the markets."
Mr. Ferraioli estimates that it is also essential to implement incisive defense mechanisms against the protectionist policies being instituted by a number of countries: the anti-dumping complaints filed in recent years by the Australian government against Italian tomato products and the retaliatory measures being levied by the EU against the USA have set alarm bells ringing among industry operators.