The Italian organic tomatoes industry is making giant leaps forward. In Northern Italy, the dedicated planting surfaces almost doubled in two years, from 1,316 hectares in 2015 to 2,310.22 in 2017. Such a trend coincides with the growing demand of organic products, which is also occurring in other sectors. Data shows that 2,310 hectares of organic production represent 6.6% of the 34,932 total hectares of the whole of Northern Italy; here, the remaining share of non-organic tomatoes is cultivated through integrated production characterized by very low use of crop protection products so that consumers can have access to high-quality, healthy, and sustainable products.
The organic tomatoes production
The amount of organic tomatoes produced by 20 different processing industries in Northern Italy in 2017 was 162,619 tonnes, with a yield of 69 tonnes per hectare. The first province for organic production is Ferrara, with 1,500.07 hectares in 2017, followed by Ravenna (350.25), Parma (184.41), Piacenza (76.43), Reggio Emilia (45.83), Mantua (37.47), Bologna (35), Verona (25.94), Cremona (16.41), and other provinces in Northern Italy with 38.41 hectares. Organic food is growing, and will continue to grow, says Tiberio Rabboni, President of OI Pomodoro da Industria del Nord Italia. It all boils down to culture. Lifestyles are changing, and people pay more and more attention to how healthy their food is. This growth can run up against only one obstacle: false organic labeling. Just a few false claims can undermine the credibility of an entire sector, as well as people’s trust. It is therefore fundamental to guarantee a reliable supply. In this respect, the industry of organic industrial tomatoes of Northern Italy can offer an added system of checks to markets and consumers, with unparalleled checks and analyses compared to other Italian and foreign markets.
A new Reliability Charter
There is little awareness of this system of checks though. That’s why there is the proposal to create a Reliability Charter which can demonstrate the additional checks carried out in Northern Italy, Rabboni underlines. This will be an essential tool that the OI will promote and that will hold all the players of the sector accountable. The charter, explains Rabboni, will highlight what happens along the supply chain, where producers, grouped into POs (professional organizations), and processing companies, will define the number of organic tomatoes, help companies to comply with organic standards, and provide checks and analyses throughout the entire production cycle, from fields to processed products, well beyond what’s required to obtain the European status of organic products.