A strawberry day at Macfrut

12 May 2017
A day dedicated to strawberries was held at Macfrut with two different sessions, the “Strawberry Talks" organised by CREA (Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of Agricultural Economics) and Image Line, as part of the fruit and vegetable trade fair held at the Rimini Expo Centre.

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The conference focused on varietal innovation and on the extensive work that is being carried out by various research groups all over Europe to develop a variety that is resistant to very cold temperatures and adapts to different types of soil. The goal is to achieve seasonal continuity of strawberries on the market, so that consumers can buy strawberries in both summer and winter. This will not be an easy choice, as the speakers explained, since it is likely that only one variety will be picked out of 200 selected varieties. This work and research process is proving to be rather long and complex.

Talk show in the afternoon
The second "Strawberry Talks" session was aimed at analysing the market and the consumption of strawberries, the symbol fruit of the 34th edition of Macfrut. Mike Knowles (Fruitnet Media International) gave a speech on the future of strawberries. "While Italy's exports are growing by 10%, Mexico and Egypt are doing even better, reaching 30%. This is why we need - Knowles explained - to keep an eye on the markets that could become even more interested in Italian produce. First and foremost, Norway, which pays high prices for strawberries, however, at the moment it does not import strawberries from Italy. France could also be a potential market for Italy. In fact, its domestic consumption of strawberries has grown in the last year, but French consumers are still not used to eating strawberries as a snack. If Italian produce were to be introduced with this purpose and with the right packaging, it might even be highly successful."

Angola, fruit and vegetables for growth
With a surface area covering more than 1 million and 200 thousand square kilometres, Angola has about 58 million hectares of agricultural land, yet only 4% of its arable lands are cultivated. Angola, one of the most dynamic African states that currently invests 10% in this sector, offers many substantial agricultural development prospects for Italian fruit and vegetable producers. Following the terrible civil war period, its agricultural sector has started growing again and now accounts for 12% of the country’s GDP: the goal is to make it rise steeply. Hence the presence of Angola at Macfrut with a large stand to establish trade relationships with Italy, one of the world's leading fruit and vegetable producers and technology leader, today present in this market with technologies and apples.
“We are looking for foreign investors on multiple fronts: technology, produce and training. During the workshop "Angola opens to the international agricultural world”, it was said that "many opportunities are now available, including partnerships".

Organic fruit and vegetable growing, Germany and Italy are growing
In 2016, the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in Italy grew in turnover by 2.2% compared to 2015 (more than 9 million tonnes sold in all channels, 152kg consumed per capita), an encouraging trend compared to the negative ones recorded in the last few years. Although Germany does not have the same strong food and farming tradition as Italy, its consumption has increased in the last year (+1.3% and almost 9 million tonnes sold, equal to 107kg per capita). These are the novelties that emerged from the Nomisma analysis prepared for the occasion of “MACFRUT BIO” (Macfrut Organic) - the special section of the international trade fair for the fruit and vegetable sector, for the first time dedicated to natural production - under the patronage of CCPB, an organic produce certification and control body - for the workshop entitled "Italian and German organic fruits and vegetables market".
In the fruit and vegetable industry, organic farming is particularly successful and increasingly appreciated by consumers. Nielsen’s data indicates that, in Italy, organic fruit and vegetable sales have totalled 147 million euros in the GDO alone, marking a sharp increase of 28% over the previous year. In Germany, organic produce is recording even greater numbers, with sales worth 9.5 billion euros in 2016, +10% compared to 2015. The organic produce share is equal to 5% of total food sales.

Agriculture will be vertical in the future
Cultivating with less land, less water and without using pesticides in overcrowded or inhospitable areas: all this can be achieved with a Vertical Farm. It involves organised farming on overlapping levels, where continuous cycle peat sods replace soil and seedlings are able to grow thanks to LED lighting and a centralised conditioning system. This was the theme of the conference organised by Idromeccanica Lucchini entitled "Vertical Farm: a High-Tech Means to reduce World Hunger?".
This kind of farming brings many benefits, since it can be installed in totally airtight environments and prevents the attacks of bacteria and fungi. As a result, chemical defences are no longer needed, thus ensuring production 365 days a year. A vertical farm is also sustainable, since it allows maximum efficiency in terms of water use thanks to an integrated system that allows the water transpired by plants to be reused. In a vertical farm, produce is fresh, harvested and eaten without any kind of intermediate stage with an almost endless range of applications: vertical crops can be set up in convenient containers located in cities, industrial areas, remote sites, on a boat, in the subsoil and even in the desert. In the future, possibly even in space. A vertical farm produces 32,000 plants a year and allows for custom production with much higher concentrations of active ingredients than traditional plants.

Elena Vincenzi and Alice Camellini
International press office Macfrut

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