15 Feb 2023

MOLARI: "BREEDER AND BUYERS TOGETHER TO OVERCOME THE CRISIS...

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Raspberry consumption data published by Italian Berry last week opened a debate among berry professionals on causes and remedies to cope with the decline in Italian households' purchases.

Certainly raspberries, due to their extraordinary nature of purchase, have suffered from recent inflationary pressures, causing them to drop out of the shopping basket of many Italian consumers. Structurally high prices, in times of economic stress, certainly do not help to develop consumption.

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But this should not be an excuse to hide other, more structural aspects as well, and on which operators can act to lift the fortunes of this fruit.

In this regard, Italian Berry interviewed Matteo Molari (Managing Partner at Molari Berries & Breeding) who, from his perspective as a breeder and nurseryman, expresses an opinion from outside the daily fray. Every day producers and traders confront each other in the struggle to gain market share without losing profitability. Molari brings us back to a more general picture, with the aim of identifying criteria to guide a healthier and more lasting development of the raspberry reference.

How does the situation of berries in Italy and the rest of the world emerge in light of the Italian Berry - GfK data?

"Returning from Fruit Logistica, trying to put together the pieces of conversations, meetings, and encounters along the aisles, at a time that is not easy for the berries sector at the European level (and beyond), the first thought goes to an analysis of the data that emerged from Italianberry's in-depth study. They are a snapshot of something that, without the sin of pride, we began to outline a couple of years ago as soon as we joined the company. Perhaps, coming from worlds away from agriculture, reading some of the dynamics was simplified by the absence of bias."

"Going back to the data we can say that, the fact that berries hold up when compared to the whole fruit and vegetable department, is only a meager consolation. If we analyze the penetration data, the first comment is that we usually know that consumer tastes hardly regress, so the loss of more than 400,000 households is to be found, in our opinion, in two elements: a moment of contingent crisis, where unfortunately we go to cut everything that is not strictly necessary and, on the other hand, a theme of missing quality that drives consumers away from the berries department of supermarkets."

Matteo (right) and Luca Molari.
Matteo (right) and Luca Molari.

How can action be taken in response to the crisis and what role can quality play?

"On the first point, it becomes more and more crucial to work on a cultural aspect of healthy eating, and we are convinced that sooner or later some actor will have to take it on in the berries sector as well."

"The quality theme, on the other hand, emerges even more clearly on raspberry and blackberry, rather than on blueberry, where quality, appearance, and freshness are key elements. When a product is not strictly essential, but is a tasty treat, but the quality does not reflect the consumer's desire there you are, right at that moment, losing a responsible buyer. And it will have happened to all of us to buy raspberries or blackberries of dubious quality or, even, not even proceed with the purchase because the appearance left no doubt. And it happens all too often."

How can work be set up for sustained development of the sector?

"Today it is no longer enough to put fruit in the basket, today we need to take care of all aspects in order to bring added value to the tables of Italians. It is no coincidence that we have, in our own small way, opted for a change of strategy, launching a new program that has the ambition of bringing synergies between breeders, marketing companies and GDO to the table. This is the real mission of Gil Program and it is a work that needs time, ideas and collaboration."

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"This is an issue on which everyone involved must and can do something more: we breeders aim to improve without any doubt, working hard to meet the ever-increasing needs of producers and sellers. We are asking buyers to start listening to us, to work together, to start choosing varieties and projects, not stopping at the price element, which is certainly important, as is also the case in other countries. Producers, who have ridden golden years, must now invest in a quality supply chain."

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