Italian fresh produce sector envisages major challenges ahead

Thu 05/11/2020 by Richard Wilkinson
Italian fresh produce sector envisages major challenges ahead

At the annual Fruitimprese assembly, which took place on October 22nd in Rome behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, president, Marco Salvi, stressed the important role played by our operators, working hard since the very beginning of the crisis to guarantee ongoing supplies of fresh products as well as the income of their employees. Salvi also called for more government financial and legal assistance for the sector. Salvi stated that government provisions had not managed to solve the labour crisis in the summer. Instead, operators were required to recruit personnel from other sectors and pay training costs. Many of these workers have subsequently quit their jobs, “leaving employers with the same problem and higher costs.”

As for the future, plastic packaging is a particular issue,  as a new plastic tax will exceed €1/kg. “We are currently working with the CONAI and the Customs Agency to guarantee rebates to those who export, but we cannot deny that these changes will lead to a radical reorganisation of the packaging sector. The coordination of the actors involved is essential to identify an alternative material and a type of packaging agreed upon on a national and international level, avoiding multiple alternative solutions that would lead to higher costs and uncertainty for consumers.”

As for the implementation of the EU’s sustainability strategy, Salvi called for operators to be “equipped with the crop protection tools essential for a sector subjected to increasing weather instability and invasions of alien species. A striking example of this is the pear brown rot, which is bringing back problems that we thought had been solved 40 years ago.”

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