- François-Xavier Branthôme
From October 1, Maria Vittoria Tornesello will be the new Managing Director of the Conserve Italia plant in Mesagne, in the province of Brindisi, which specializes in processing oblong peeled tomatoes, including the famous Cirio peeled tomatoes.
The cooperative group's general management announced the new assignment at a press conference held at the Mesagne site, where the tomato processing campaign is currently underway. This season, the plant has been employing over 400 seasonal workers and is expected to process 59,000 tonnes of raw materials harvested from the 700 hectares cultivated in Puglia.
According to Conserve Italia President Maurizio Gardini, "Maria Vittoria Tornesello has already been a benchmark for the Mesagne production site for some time. She has now taken on the important legacy of outgoing Director Roberto Savioli (who went on to manage the Barbiano nel Ravennate fruit juice plant) and his predecessor Enzo Rossi, now a member of our Board of Directors, two managers who have made this plant a pole of excellence in the Puglia agri-food sector and a force for development, legality and employment in this territory."
Fifty-one-year-old Maria Vittoria Tornesello, a Mesagne biologist and former Quality and Environment Manager at the plant (where she has worked since 1999, the year Conserve Italia acquired the site), commented on her new role: "I would like to thank the general management for the trust placed in me, and assure them of my commitment to carry on, in full continuity with my predecessors, the work of improving the company, with the objectives of making the most of the products delivered by Puglia's member growers, meeting market demands and consolidating relations with the territory."
From left to right : Roberto Savioli, Maria Vittoria Tornesello and Pier Paolo Rosetti
"In recent years, we have invested heavily in the Mesagne plant, where we process Apulian tomato specialties," added Managing Director Pier Paolo Rosetti. "Further interventions are planned in the coming months to make production processes even more efficient and sustainable, with a focus on 4.0 technology and renewable energies. For the coming season, we'll be equipping the plant with a 500 kW photovoltaic system that will enable us to meet a quarter of our energy needs. This is a 1.2 million euro improvement carried out as part of the PNRR Parco Agrisolare call for tenders issued by the Ministry of Agriculture."
"We're aiming for 20% growth in production"
The press event provided an opportunity to take stock of the campaign's progress. "We're now in the middle of the season," explained outgoing plant manager Roberto Savioli, "and we can count on good industrial yields and an excellent product supplied by our growers. We have a program of 59,000 tonnes, over 90% of which are oblong tomatoes and the rest are red and yellow datterino tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, the Apulian specialties we processed throughout the second half of July. Compared with last year, which was marked by problems with industrial yields and product availability, this year we're aiming for a 20% increase in production to bring the plant back up to standard levels. However, weather conditions in September could have a negative impact on our programs, in the event of heavy rainfall."
APO Foggia is new shareholder
It was also during this press conference that it was announced that producers' organization Apo Foggia, a long-standing and well-established supplier, had recently joined Conserve Italia's shareholding structure, bringing to four the number of Puglia-based POs that are members of the cooperative group (the others are Conapo, Fimagri and La Palma). Additionally, Conserve Italia's new tomato manager for the southern region, Giovanni Amorese, a 39-year-old agronomist from Puglia, was also introduced.
President Maurizio Gardini concluded: "The broadening of our social base and the arrival of a new professional executive highly qualified in the agronomic field and endowed with knowledge and experience in the Apulian tomato sector further strengthens our presence in the regional agricultural context and confirms Conserve Italia's commitment to supporting the Apulian agricultural sector by enhancing production excellence thanks to the strength of emblematic Made-in-Italy brands such as Cirio and Valfrutta."