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Italy: The Piana del Sele is Europe's reservoir of rocket and baby leaves

Who's filling the bags with fresh salad in Europe during winter, when most of the production has stopped due to weather conditions? The answer is: the Piana del Sele (Campania).

The Piana del Sele (also known as Piana di Paestum or Piana di Eboli) is a fertile 500 sq km alluvial plain along the Sele river in the Salerno province (Campania). The average temperature of 16.8°C and the Mediterranean climate make of this area the true agricultural basin of the Salerno province. Its productions, especially rocket, corn-salad, lamb's lettuce and other baby leaves - cultivated on 2,500 hectares of covered land - supply the whole ready-to-eat salad market from October to April. 

A case in point is Ortomad, a company founded in 1998 in Pontecagnano Faiano (Campania) by a number of farmers and part of "La Linea Verde" group in Manerbio (Lumbardy). The company is one of the main producers and marketers of I and IV range loose and packed fruit and vegetables (10,000 tons per year) and it supplies its clients with high quality products throughout the whole year. 

An aerial view of Ortomad's land.

The company has two productive plants, one in Pontecagnano and the other in Bellizzi and is currently cultivating 430 hectares, 130 of which owned directly by the company (100 of which are covered) and 300 hectares by other suppliers. The company employs approximately 220 workers.

The Ortomad plants.

On top of supplying other brands such as "DimmidiSì" with their products, Ortomad also markets a wide range of produce under its own brand. 

In the photo, Gianluca Boccagna, the manager and Raffaele Maddalo, the owner. Below: some of the Ortomad branded products.

As owner Raffaele Maddalo explains, "The Ortomad range was created in 2010, before then, we were only selling produce coming from other farms. We have since become an agricultural society and therefore we now control the whole process, from the seed to the shelf. We use control and quality maintenance systems (foreign body elimination, optical selectors, blast chillers and preservation of the cold chain) and we also carry out microbiological analysis on each element (raw material, finished product, water, surfaces)."

"Integrated control and Organic cultivation specifications enable minimum levels of residue (less that 30% with respect to the MRLs - Maximum Residue Limits)."

The markets supplied by Ortomad. 40% of the produce is exported; France is an historic market, whereas Great Britain was only added three years ago. Demand in Russia is booming. Market diversification was essential, especially considering that the Italian market is rather full and has stabilised after many years of double digit growth.

No wonder Ortomad has a range of certifications!

For more information:
Ortomad Società Agricola S.r.l.
Via Lago Carezza, 16
84098 Pontecagnano Faiano (SA) - Italy
Tel.: (+39) 089 200383
Fax: (+39) 089 203902
Email: [email protected]
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