Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Short supply chains for fruit and vegetables gain momentum in Italy

Written by Christiane Navas on Monday, October 29th 2012 à 10:46 | Read 1461 times

Farmers’ markets, increased numbers of temporary and permanent sales outlets, e-commerce websites…all of these, supported by new services offered by logistics platforms, have led to the development of highly effective short supply chains for the sale of fruit and vegetables in Italy.

ITALY. Short supply chains in Italy have the wind in their sales. In contrast to the current decline in overall sales witnessed by foodstuffs, there has been a marked increase in the direct sales of fruit and vegetables. Launched in 2009 by Coldiretti, the “Campagna Amica” network attracted no less than 8.3 million Italian customers in 2010 who, in looking to be environmentally-friendly and looking for quality products, chose to shop with local producers. Significantly, the Italian peninsula is the leading producer of organic fruit and vegetables in Europe.

The markets and direct sales outlets of « Campagna Amica   », which are open to some 16,000 local producers and farmers, generated a turnover of €320 million in 2010. More than half of these markets (out of close to one thousand in total) are to be found in the north of Italy, with the Piedmont region having the highest concentration. “In less than two years, ‘Campagna Amica’ has established itself as the most important direct sales network for agricultural produce in Europe” exclaims Coldiretti President, Sergio Marini. Furthermore, in light of the above, other European countries such as Spain are becoming interested in such ventures. 

This enthusiasm for short supply chains and local produce can also be seen in initiatives such as that of the Piedmont-based group T18

With a presence at every stage of the fruit and vegetables supply chain, from production and processing through to logistics and distribution, the group has signed an agreement with the hypermarket Leclerc in Turin to set up a direct sales stand within the store selling its regional fruits and vegetables. 

Another initiative is the agreement signed between the Nord Conad distribution network (130 distribution points in Piedmont, Liguria and the Aosta Valley) and the Piedmont-based cooperative Ortofruit Italia (500 local Piedmont growers producing 20,000 tons of fruit and vegetables per year), to sell fruit and vegetables “born and bred in Piedmont” via short supply chains.

Pooling distribution activities with groups of individual buyers

Local production in Piedmont (photo Piedmont region)
Local production in Piedmont (photo Piedmont region)

Although short supply chains may aim to reduce the number of intermediaries and enable producers to receive a fair income whilst at the same time offering consumers lower prices for quality produce, they do not remove all the logistics needs, they modify them. Thus, within urban centres, direct sales are often made through online orders either by individuals or, more often, by organised groups of individual buyers known as G.A. (Gruppi di Acquisto – Buying Groups) or G.A.S (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale – Solidarity Buying Groups), or even Inter G.A.S which federate several buying groups. Considered by law to be non-commercial actors, these buying groups nonetheless must possess premises suitable to take delivery and store the produce ordered and/or organise the distribution between the group members. 

As such, fruit and vegetable logistics platforms are taking account of these new needs in Italy by offering services such as the provision of premises or home delivery. The CAAB (Centro Agro Alimentaire di Bologna – The Agriculture and Food Centre of Bologna) is already doing this and in Rome, the Bio Solidale Distribuzione di Grottaferrata, an offshoot of the agricultural cooperative Capodarco, has just invested, within the wholesale market, in a 1,500m² logistics platform for the distribution or organic fruit and vegetables in Rome and its surrounding region. This is in order to satisfy, amongst others, the orders received through its website

In order for the filière courte  to remain competitive in terms of price, producers must reduce the costs of their logistics and therefore pool deliveries. The surcharge, if any, will be much lower than with the traditional supply chains.


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