Conserve Italia's mission is to enhance the value of the products its members contribute and to offer them new farming opportunities in terms of new varieties of fruit and vegetables, larger surface areas and quantities of raw materials, while at the same time guaranteeing the necessary continuity of processing of fruit and vegetable products over the years.
Continuity of the quantities processed is linked closely to the commercial development on domestic and foreign markets with branded products or via the supply of private labels for modern distribution chains.
Conserve Italia has always focused on the policy of emphasising the value of products with its brands and also in its acquisitions, it has sought out companies with valuable brands on the preserved food market.
The brand policy requires an efficient, safe, reliable and top-quality production supply chain.
Over the last few financial years, Conserve Italia has implemented or defined a series of activities and projects aimed at enhancing the value of the products contributed by its members, which have enabled, or will enable in the near and not-too-distant future, the improved profitability of crops, the extension and development of the farmed surface areas, and the differentiation of the range of raw materials produced.
The dry pulse project
Over the last 30 years, the growing of pulses in Italy has dropped progressively owing to its low productivity.
Conserve Italia, fully aware of the agronomical difficulties posed by these crops (chickpeas, lentils and beans) decided back in 2008 to embark upon a production path, introducing industrial chickpea cultivation first in Tuscany and then in Puglia.
Dry pulses have undergone a major decline in terms of cultivation, not just owing to the low productivity, but also for the genetics in the seed selection industry which has not solved the technical problems linked to resistance to fungal diseases.
In addition to the genetic aspect, there has also been a problem of an economical nature, which has induced many entrepreneurs to reduce or downright quit pulse cultivation due to the market prices which were not compatible with the costs incurred for cultivation.
Today Conserve Italia has created a genuine Italian chickpea supply chain.
The company's decision to start growing dry pulses, beginning with chickpeas, is tied to the possibility of using the same operating machines implemented for wheat, which certain member companies already grow.
In Italy, the company controls a generous 1,300 hectares across Tuscany, the Marche, Puglia and Sicily, where they are familiar with the history of pulses, from sowing to picking.
The producer not only benefits from an economic advantage, namely a guaranteed price and collection, but also from an agronomical advantage.
Indeed, since chickpeas are pulses, they release nitrogen into the soil, thereby improving the fertility of the land. From 2008 to date, agronomical modifications have been made to the period and density of sowing, as well as to the management of phytosanitary measures. All this has made it possible to achieve today a yield of a generous 1800 kg/ha, against the initial 1000-1500 kg/ha.
Conserve Italia's supply chain project, which was launched in 2008 with chickpeas, has set ambitious goals today: indeed, we are working on being able to introduce among our member companies other crops such as lentils, Borlotti beans and cannellini beans, dried, to accommodate the production requirements of the company's brands and to guarantee the end consumers receive a product that is safe but most of all one that is Italian. Considering the ever-rising numbers, in 2013 Conserve Italia invested considerable resources for the construction at the Ravarino plant of a dry product selection system, thereby becoming one of the few companies in Italy to manage the chickpea supply chain, from sowing to product processing.
The yellow-fleshed peach project
Conserve Italia has promoted the “yellow-fleshed peach” project to tackle the varietal evolution of the species, which is increasingly focused on fruit that appeals to the fresh produce market, featuring a characteristic red skin tone yet which are less suited to the production of juice.
The project is split into two system phases: the first 112 hectares were built in 2002 and 2003 and were completed in 2008-2009, and during standard production for the three-year period considered, another 76 hectares were planted, for a total of 189 hectares and a potential production of approximately 6-8,000 tonnes of fruit. To guarantee the retention of the planned volumes of peaches, we are proceeding with the conversion of surfaces to replace obsolete plants currently being decommissioned.
Project for relaunching clingstone peaches for syrup
The project for relaunching the cultivation of peaches intended for industrial processing in tins has been achieved thanks to multi-annual agreements entered into with member co-operatives and member producers.
The cultivation of varieties selected as suitable for processing makes it possible to cut cultivation costs and produce top-quality finished products. The choice of varieties was possible thanks to the experimentation conducted by Conserve Italia technicians: five varieties were picked (three from France and two from Italy) which are planted in facilities with a minimum surface area of 2 hectares, for a total of approximately 190 hectares.
The new fruit groves planted between 2012 and 2016 will develop a production of 8-9,000 tonnes of peaches destined entirely for the Pomposa plant (FE).
Project for new williams pear plants
Following careful analysis of the land registry situation of the company base, a progressive and unexpected ageing of the surfaces dedicated to the Williams pear variety was evidenced.
This situation could have led over the next few years to a progressive drop in the quantities of this variety, making the availability of the share intended for the syrup industry insufficient.
Conserve Italia has promoted a project which - by entering into multi-annual cultivation agreements with member co-operatives and member producers - will make it possible to achieve over a three-year period (2015-2017) a surface area of approximately 110 hectares of Williams pears to devote entirely to processing for tinned fruit.