A longstanding excellence of Italy’s food, the industrial tomato supply chain is preparing to improve its reputation. ANICAV, the Italian Association of Industrial Vegetable Food Preserves, states that “to give a new and better image to the processed Italian tomato we have changed our operating paradigm, trying to move from a purely associative activity to a series of actions in support of the whole system.”
THE GLOBAL THREATS TO THE ITALIAN TOMATO REPUTATION
One of the most insidious threats to the image of Italian tomatoes is linked to the ‘Chinese tomato concentrate’ issue. “In this sense – explains the general manager of ANICAV, Giovanni De Angelis – it must be specified that the tomato derivatives sold on the shelves of the Italian large-scale retail system are obtained from 100% Italian products. Moreover, from concentrate tomatoes, whether imported or made in Italy, it is not possible to obtain ‘solid’ products precisely because it is liquid; it would be like pretending to obtain bunches of grapes from a bottle of wine.”
THE GUARANTEES OF MADE IN ITALY ‘RED GOLD’
There are two other reasons that deny this insinuation. The first one is related to the needs of preservation. The tomato must be processed within 24 hours from when it has been harvested, and to imagine that this happens with raw material from China or another country even close by, would be practically impossible as well as economically unsustainable.
The second is related to the TPA (inward processing traffic) or Temporary Import Regime, through which about 90% of the tomato concentrate is imported from non-EU countries, including China. Under this system, the concentrate – a liquid product – temporarily enters the Italian territory for processing (transformation, repair, etc.), and is then re-exported to Africa or the Middle East with the “packaged in Italy” label. The entire process is documented and subjected to controls by the Italian health authorities.
ANICAV’S PROJECTS AND GOALS
In order to improve the reputation of the Italian tomato sector in the eyes of the public opinion, ANICAV has long been committed on several fronts by developing ethical codes and projects for the monitoring and protection of productions. It is working for the recognition of a voluntary certification scheme for the Italian tomato processing sector, as well as carrying out two important satellite mapping and monitoring projects for the verification of ripeness and quality, in Southern Italy and Emilia-Romagna respectively.
The same goal of promotion and support to the supply chain is pursued by ANICAV on the exports front thanks to two projects carried out and funded by the same association (6 million euros in the three-year period 2020/2022). The first, ‘Greatest Tomato from Europe’, is aimed at the US market where the problem of Italian Sounding is strong. The other one, ‘Red Gold from Europe’, is aimed at China, South Korea and Japan with the purpose of educating local consumers on the purchase of tomato products increasing and consolidating Italian preserves exports in these countries.