- Press release
, François-Xavier Branthôme
The Tomato SAUCE project aims to increase consumer knowledge and awareness of the high environmental standards applied to production methods in the European Union, to bridge the gap between attitudes and behaviors, and to promote specific knowledge about the sustainability of the different phases in the life-cycle of tomato products.
A delegation from northern Italy's Interbranch Organization for Processing Tomatoes took part in the Anuga trade show in Cologne, Germany, to involve the media, operators and influencers and raise their awareness about the rigorous environmental and social sustainability standards that characterize the Italian production of processing tomatoes and processed products.
This is the first stage of a larger two-year project entitled Tomato SAUCE – Sustainable Agriculture Understanding in Central Europe, financed by the European Union, aimed at raising awareness and communicating in two target countries – Germany and France – regarding the high environmental standards and social norms guaranteed by the certified production specifications with which agricultural cultivation and industrial tomato processing in northern Italy must comply.
For Tiberio Rabboni, “The certainty of the environmental and social sustainability of our production is, along with organoleptic quality, a decisive factor in winning over new consumers and countering international competition."
Northern Italy is home to 50% of the country's processing tomato production and around 25% of European production, in an agro-industrial context that is systematically certified and controlled by independent bodies. Around 10% of the surface areas are certified as "organic" on the basis of specific European regulations, while the remaining 90% are certified "integrated production", a system of crop regulation that specifies limited use of fertilizers, agrochemicals, water resources and, in general, non-invasive agronomic techniques, so as to guarantee healthy products for human consumption and reduced crop impact on natural resources and the environment. What's more, the tomato products produced in northern Italy come from agricultural raw materials harvested using fully mechanized systems, and are subject to internationally recognized voluntary certifications for social responsibility and respect for workers' rights.
The project to promote Tomato SAUCE also includes fact-finding visits by French and German journalists and bloggers to agricultural and industrial companies in northern Italy to verify and explore "in person" the real environmental sustainability of the production techniques used, as well as the creation of a website (https://oipomodoronorditalia.it/en/), in English dedicated to the project, the docu-series "Truemato" (five short documentaries dedicated to the tomato sector in northern Italy, made in the field with the participation of farmers and researchers), the opening of a LinkedIn page (www.linkedin.com/company/oipomodoro-nord-italia) and a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/@OIPomodoro), as well as the implementation of online communications campaigns, advertisements in the trade press, and participation Europe's main food expos and fairs. After Anuga, our presence at international trade shows will continue with the Parma Cibus, from May 7 to 10, 2024, and the Sial, in Paris from October 19 to 23, 2024.
"With this project, which is currently aimed at France and Germany," says Tiberio Rabboni, President of the IO Pomodoro da Industria Nord Italia, "we want to involve intermediaries in European markets in acquiring direct knowledge of the environmental and social sustainability of our production and certification systems, so that they contribute with us to raising awareness of absolute reliability. Along with organoleptic quality, the certainty of sustainability and the wholesomeness of production is now one of the decisive factors in winning new market shares with consumers and resisting low-cost international competition."
The Tomato SAUCE project
“For several decades now, sustainability has become an increasingly important factor influencing food choices worldwide. Consumers are becoming more aware of their food purchasing decisions’ environmental, social, and economic impacts and are seeking options that reflect their values.
According to a study taking consumer insights into account, awareness and intention seem definitely in favor of sustainability. However, there is an attitude-behavior gap at the purchasing stage. While 70% of French consumers and 58% of German consumers support their willingness to penalize non-sustainable companies, only 32% and 29% respectively did so in 2020. What’s triggering this gap?
Consumers may be wary of buying organic or sustainable products for several reasons, which can vary depending on individual beliefs, preferences, and perceptions. Many consumers may not fully understand the benefits of organic or sustainable products or may be unfamiliar with the certification processes. The lack of awareness about the positive environmental and social impacts of such products can lead to reluctance to switch to more sustainable brands. Moreover, consumers may be skeptical of claims made by certain companies, as they worry sustainability might be used as a marketing ploy without a genuine commitment to eco-friendly practices.
According to a study of Capgemini, about 49% of consumers state they don’t have enough information to verify the sustainability claims of the products they buy, while 44% don’t trust these claims. On top of that, there may be some confusion about the abundance of eco-labels and certifications, making it challenging to distinguish authentic sustainable options from less environmentally friendly ones.
This is why we decided to invest in a brand-new project called Tomato SAUCE (Sustainable Agriculture Understanding in Central Europe), which has the goal of fixing the European consumers’ attitude-behavior gap and the lack of transparent and useful information about the high environmental standards of the European tomato processing industry. The project’s claim is crystal clear: “Grounded in Sustainability. European tomatoes grow full of purpose.”
We want to showcase the reality of OI Pomodoro, as it is a major tomato processing supply chain representative of the European agri-food sector. Our aim is to provide verifiable data, trustworthy content, and first-hand experiences to everyone involved and interested in the industry. We believe in honest and informative communication, and we think it is important for potential consumers to be fully aware before making any type of purchasing decision.”
Some complementary data
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Sources: OI Pomodoro Nord Italia, corriereortofrutticolo.it,