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Italy: new initiative Mediterranea aims to promote processed tomatoes

04/06/2024 - François-Xavier Branthôme
Last January, the Unione Italiana Food (or "Unionfood", the Italian Food Union), one of the main associations representing the food industry in Europe, with over 900 brands present on tables all over the world, along with Confagricoltura, the oldest organization, which represents 45% of the country's agricultural production, together signed an alliance uniting the world of industrial processing and the primary agricultural sector, placing the Mediterranean model and its industrial operations at the center of its focus.
 This is how the Mediterranea association came into being, representing a total value of EUR 106 billion (including 56 billion for industry and 49 billion for agriculture), and providing 650,000 jobs.
Its main objectives are to enhance production efficiency, competitiveness on foreign markets, sustainability, logistics and warehousing. It also aims to increase exports, and to promote and develop the advantages of the Mediterranean diet by integrating supply chains and guaranteeing high product quality standards for the end consumer.
The Mediterranea association was present at the Cibus trade fair in Parma on May 7, attended by Francesco Lollobrigida, Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, and Adolfo Urso, Minister of Corporate Enterprise and "Made in Italy". Its first objective is to promote the Mediterranean diet and contribute to the development of production and quality of Italian processing tomatoes. Strengthening supply chains and their efficiency from field to plate, ensuring the sustainability of production and improving the efficiency of logistics networks and storage systems are all part of Mediterranea's stated aims, and this first project goes exactly in that direction.
The initiative builds on the success of the Memorandum of Understanding on durum wheat and pasta, with the aim of extending the model to other sectors represented by the Italian Food Union and Confagricoltura, notably the tomato sector. The technical partner will be Value Groovers, a University of Tuscia spin-off of which Pr. Emanuele Blasi is Chairman. Its role will be to supervise the project promoted by Mediterranea (the industry's first such project), drawing on the experience of the protocol and the innovative FRUCLASS model tested in the durum wheat pasta supply chain.
Italy, with over 5 million tonnes, is the world's third largest producer of tomatoes for processing, after California and China. In Italy, over 68,000 hectares of processing tomatoes were grown in 2023, with 57% in northern Italy and 43% in central and southern Italy. Surface areas have increased, while production has fallen (-1.3%), mainly for climatic reasons.
One of the objectives of the Mediterranea project is to identify organizational, technological and industrial models designed to support a qualitative, nutritional and geographical guarantee for tomato-based industrial products.
For Massimiliano Giansanti, President of Mediterranea, "With Mediterranea, we intend to structure the Italian agri-food sectors so that they become increasingly competitive on the markets. Through agreements and certifications in favor of traceability and sustainability, Confagricoltura and Unionfood are jointly committed to increasing production and developing agreements with third party stakeholders to support the high quality of Italian agri-food exports."
 Mediterranea President Massimiliano Giansanti (left), Vice-President Paolo Barilla (right).
According to Paolo Barilla, Vice-President of Mediterranea: "The richness, variety and nature of the products represented by Unione Italiana Food are complementary to the Mediterranean diet as a whole. This is why, with Confagricoltura, we have built a structure for the promotion and development of Mediterranean industries and Italian products of excellent quality, with the aim of achieving integration within the sector as well as between several sectors, as represented by the two founding associations."
According to representatives of the Italian tomato processing industry, Mediterranea is a second level association of which the main objective is essentially to contribute, through the implementation of the necessary initiatives, activities and projects, to reaching the following targets.
  Achieve the best possible scientific, social, anthropological and cultural knowledge of the Mediterranean diet and its supply chains, products, ingredients and nutrients, for the purposes of its wider dissemination.
  Carry out operations in the fields of food education, promoting and informing consumers about the Mediterranean diet and its supply chains, products, ingredients and nutrients, as well as its positive effects on health.
  Consolidate the reference chains of the Mediterranean diet in terms of production efficiency from field to fork, competitiveness on global markets, sustainability of production, efficiency of the logistics network and storage systems, and implement any other appropriate measures supporting, promoting and developing awareness of the Mediterranean diet.
Mediterranea is open to the membership of other associations and organizations that may express interest and that state objectives consistent with its mission. The two partners who created the project are already working to broaden its base, with the aim of expanding and strengthening its scope of representation. The Anicav is considering the opportunity of joining Mediterranea. However, there is no change in the representation of the processing sector: the Anicav continues to be the representative association of private companies, with the Confcooperative representing cooperative industries.
Sources:,, Professional sources





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