- François-Xavier Branthôme
"A common front for a joint strategy in selling to large retail distributors"
The exceptional final result of the 2021 campaign should mark, for Confagricoltura Emilia Romagna, the starting point of a united market strategy for the tomato sector over the next year.
Emilia-Romagna is the main region of Italy in terms of surface areas planted with processing tomatoes, reporting approximately 27,000 hectares distributed as follows between the different provinces: Piacenza 10,600 ha, Ferrara 6,700 ha, Parma 4,500 ha, Ravenna 2,500 ha, Reggio Emilia 1,100 ha, Modena 960 ha, Bologna 370 ha, Forlì-Cesena 70 ha and Rimini 40 ha. The region is also in top position for exports of red gold products (passata, pulp and especially tomato sauce).
Italy has confirmed its position at the top of the global ranking of countries that produce and export processed products: 60% of "made in Italy" canned tomato products are intended for foreign markets (see related articles). The impact of the entire sector and its related activities on Italy's GDP and on job creation is crucial.
“However, there are worrying signs that force us to close ranks, to start working together immediately in view of the 2022 campaign. Firstly, production costs have increased, with hikes of 30% or sometimes more, and this is only the beginning of an inevitable rise in prices that has been announced for supplies of prime importance: electricity, fuel, technical inputs and seeds. This represents an increase of around EUR 10 per tonne over the season which has just ended,” summarizes Giovanni Lambertini, President of the processing tomato growers of Confagricoltura Emilia Romagna. “This is why we must form a united front, growers and manufacturers together, and agree on a strategy to be implemented in terms of sales to big retail distribution chains. The increase in costs will affect the balance sheets of companies this year and even more in 2022, so it will be necessary to take this into account.”
Lambertini underlines the most relevant aspect: “We worked hard all summer to achieve the longest harvest season in history (around 75 days). The final result? An excellent agricultural yield (on average 80 tonnes per hectare) and exceptional quality (4.9 Brix degrees with a very good color result). The quantitative and qualitative performances of the organic crop, which represents 10% of the total, have also been more than satisfactory. Even the severe drought did not impact the harvest, thanks to the best technical resources available which made it possible to irrigate satisfactorily in terms of quantity and quality. The tomato delivered, healthy and intact, gave rise to processing yields exceeding all expectations (+10% compared to last year), thus meeting the needs of the sector.”
"There is however one other point that we will not be able to avoid during negotiations of the 2022 framework agreement for the northern region of Italy. Indeed, all of the tomatoes in the field have not been harvested, because quantities largely exceeded the industrial processing capacity of the whole area. This is why, together, we must endeavor to better define the surfaces to be planted, and consider the possibility of a reduction," concluded Lambertini.