Italian Fruit and vegetable export & business models

di Jessika Pini

Italian fruit goes abroad. The need for Italy to develop fruit and vegetable export confirms even more to be an obliged path, if the decrease concerning domestic consumption is analyzed. Claudio Scalise, SgMarketing managing partner, says “Since 2000 up to now, the Italian consumption of fruit and vegetables decreased by 100 kg per family, and by 5.7% in volume from 2009 to 2014, thus indicating structural decline, and not just economic one”.

However, expert Scalise thinks that in the coming years some factors, such as recovery of the US economy, decline in oil prices, and loss of value of euro against dollar, should make international penetration more efficient. To all this, slow recovery in consumption in Europe adds. However, some critical issues remain. They are related to the international political situation, first of all Russian embargo and situation in North Africa.

Best-performing markets

Based on the data processed by ISMEA SgMarketing, in the last decade Italian fruit has achieved the best performance in East-Central Europe, with + 12% in value in 2013 in comparison with 2004. Markets opened in North Africa (+ 4%) and penetration increased in Asia (+ 4%) and Middle East (+ 3%). However, in the same period of time exports of vegetables found space in the new EU countries only (+14%). As for processed products, the most important market in terms of value is Asia, which concerns 9% of exports. In this commodity segment, tomato products are leading. Scalise points out: ‘With forward-looking attitude, aimed at strengthening distant markets, the Italian chain of fresh products is reorganizing itself in order to produce transformed products, too’.

Consumer segmentation

In order to approach new markets, it is important to have clear identikit concerning consumers. Scalise explains: ‘In Western Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, and Australia, in which overall a billion people live and where 70% of sales passes through retail, we are in front of mature and critical consumers, sensitive to issues concerning food security, ecological, social and economic sustainability of production, and who estimates the value of brand. Therefore, an offer linked to health (organic, functional foods), local or fair trade products is appreciated, especially if it is also accompanied by high value in service and is aesthetically appealing. In developing markets (Central and Eastern Europe, Korea, Taiwan, China, Gulf Countries, Russia) food is an element which gives connotation of social status. So, special attention is paid to both aesthetic and intrinsic characteristics of both product and brand. Finally, in new markets (Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, parts of Asia, India) food is perceived as a necessity, fruit and vegetables are considered a commodity and the main parameter is their price’.

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