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Italy: new national supply chain agreement

07/12/2021 - François-Xavier Branthôme
Princes and Coldiretti together to protect the “100% Made in Italy” tomato

Princes defends the Italian tomato from the onslaught of China: the company has extended and deepened a partnership with Italian agricultural association Coldiretti, by committing to paying its tomato growers a “fair price” significantly above the market rate.

Coldiretti, the main association representing agricultural entrepreneurs at national and European level, and Princes Industrie Alimentari, a company that manages in Foggia the largest plant in Europe for the processing of tomatoes and part of Princes, the primary international food & beverage group in the United Kingdom, they have signed a new national supply chain agreement to protect the “100% Made in Italy” tomato and support its development by putting people, the environment and economic growth at the center.

For the first time in Italy, the new supply chain agreement with Coldiretti, supplemented by the collaboration of Princes with Oxfam Italia on monitoring and support activities for workers’ training, outlines a reference framework to promote the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the supply chain. Italian tomato. A pact that strengthens the fight against the Italian Sounding phenomenon: a market that has exceeded 100 billion euros, double the value of Italian food exports around the world.

With imports of tomato derivatives from China that this year have practically doubled (+ 93%) and will reach well over 100 million kilos in 2021, it is important to guarantee traceability on the shelves and the quality and sustainability of Made in Italy” affirms the president of Coldiretti Ettore Prandini in specifying that “it is necessary to fight the unfair competition of products imported from abroad by ensuring that all the foods on sale in Italy and in Europe respect the same rules on the environment, health and workers’ rights. With this agreement our work continues for more just, modern and sustainable supply chains “.

Born from objectives shared with Coldiretti and our partners, this agreement is a further step forward to give substance to the future of the tomato supply chain and, consequently, to Italy. As a business, we are directly committed to the environment and apply ethical working practices and fair economic conditions. With this new agreement we propose a reference model that can inspire and encourage shared initiatives between companies, associations and institutions,” underlines Gianmarco Laviola, CEO of Princes Industrie Alimentari.

Congratulations to Princes for the renewal of the agreement with Coldiretti. The continuity of this agreement is evidence of the close and effective collaboration that exists between Italy and the United Kingdom in the agricultural sector and, more specifically, in the Italian tomato supply chain. This agreement, which aims not only to promote this sector, but also to guarantee fair working conditions while respecting the human rights of workers, is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, which the United Kingdom strongly supports, and honors both parties involved “, added Jill Morris, British Ambassador to the Italian Republic.

Social sustainability is an absolute priority for the Princes Group, which has always invested in respect for human rights not only among its suppliers but throughout the Apulian supply chain. The collaboration with Oxfam Italia is an important sign of Princes’ desire to create a system along the entire supply chain in order to strengthen the commitment against exploitation practices, including the phenomenon of illegal hiring. Princes and Oxfam Italia will work to make the initiatives that involve agricultural cooperatives and workers employed in tomato harvesting more effective – through monitoring procedures – and support training on agronomic practices, regulatory aspects, good practices of employment relationships but also technological and security supports.

Coldiretti and Princes want to innovate the supply chain by starting a process of technological modernization while reducing its environmental impact. The main directions of action envisage the implementation of agriculture 4.0 technologies that also involve the use of the most sophisticated satellite surveys to monitor crop development and intervene quickly and effectively to contain the negative impacts of climate change, support for the purchase of precision and control equipment, the reduction of the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and non-biodegradable plastics, implementation of waste and water management projects and circular economy. In particular, the focus will be on circular bioeconomy products, starting with bioplastic mulches developed with MaterAgro and Novamont. Trainings dedicated to farmers and technicians of partner cooperatives will also be organized.
 According to PIA CEO Gianmarco Laviola the real cost of producing tomatoes in a sustainable manner in the region was up to 20% higher than the current market average. In order to “enhance financial stability for Coldiretti growers”, Princes confirms to the producers the possibility of signing supply contracts lasting three years, also recognizing a “fair” price for the tomato, that is based on the actual costs incurred. The company defines the fair purchase price of the raw material on the basis of the cultural account prepared by the University of Foggia. In addition to guaranteeing a price that reflected the “real cost of growing a tomato”, PIA had also committed to notifying growers of their price at the start of the year, rather than in June or July (as done by the rest of the sector, just before the harvesting season), added Laviola. “By that point, the only way a grower can make savings [based on the price paid to them] is by reducing labour costs. By informing them early in the year, they are able to better plan their investment,” Laviola said.

For the 2021 tomato transfers, Princes confirmed to the partner companies the remuneration foreseen in 2020 which represented a historic increase for the farmers of the Capitanata. Furthermore, the company recognizes an additional incentive to those farmers who invest in the supply of superior quality tomatoes. Given the highly innovative characteristics, the supply chain agreement will be subject to an annual review to capture the indications coming from the partners of Princes and Coldiretti with the aim of a continuous and constant improvement of the contents of the Agreement.

Coldiretti and Princes are committed to enhancing the high quality and national identity of the Italian tomato supply chain to restore competitiveness to a strategic sector for the recovery of the country. In fact, Italy represents 15% of world tomato production for a sector worth over Euro 3.7 billion in turnover. Puglia alone contributes about 30% to the entire volume of Italian industrial tomatoes and about 60% to that grown in Southern Italy.

Princes works in the Foggia plant – the largest industrial site in Europe – only tomatoes of Apulian origin and is sourced exclusively from producers who comply with the highest standards in terms of ethical work, according to the “Global GAP GRASP” or “SA8000” certifications “. Additionally, Princes requires all of its agricultural suppliers to be registered in the Quality Farming Network.

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