Europe's biggest fresh tomato cooperative cannot remain oblivious to market trends and the demands of society. In a world increasingly aware of environmental sustainability and health issues, the consumption of organic products is rising every year. This is also being observed in Spain.
CASI has managed to double the number of hectares devoted to organic crops this campaign, already exceeding 100. The cooperative currently has 50 certified members. Moreover, another 20 partners, who own a total of 25 hectares, are currently converting their production, so the area will continue to grow. This group of agricultural producers is showing a special sensitivity when it comes to cultivating and understanding agriculture. In the words of the technical manager of CASI's Organic Department, Teresa Camacho, "it is a very important project for CASI and its partners are adopting it with great enthusiasm. Proof of this is that every year, more and more of us are choosing to grow and market natural, healthy and environmentally-friendly products."
Many of the producers that have joined the Bio project are already working to take a further step towards biodynamics. So far, 30 partners have already completed the necessary course. Furthermore, there are already 4 farms in the process of obtaining a 'Demeter' certification. There is a transition period lasting 2 years, so they will be fully certified in February 2020. We are talking about 6 hectares devoted to peppers and cherry tomatoes located in the area of Retamar, in Almeria. Camacho says that "we are so convinced that this product line has a good future ahead that we are taking a step further, towards biodynamics, which is a system that goes beyond the organic certification. It is the philosophy with the strongest commitment to protecting the natural resources."
Another novelty of CASI's organic production strategy has been the installation of an area for organic products at its Los Partidores auction. It is the first initiative of its kind in our province. Since it was implemented, at the time when the campaign was just starting, its popularity has been increasing. This has resulted in a gradual growth of the marketed volume. Organic on the vine tomatoes are sold in cardboard packaging under the cooperative's organic brand. These are becoming quite popular, especially in the domestic market. The auction's area devoted to organic sales can be clearly identified inside the warehouse, which makes it more independent and visible. The person in charge of CASI's auction, Diego Palenzuela, positively rates this initiative, as "both producers and buyers have welcomed it. For that reason, we believe that it will continue to grow throughout the season and in the coming years."
CASI has a center specialized in the sale of organic products in San Isidro (Níjar). There they work with zucchini, on the vine tomatoes, Rebelion tomatoes, Dutch cucumber, plum tomatoes, cherry on the vine and loose tomatoes, cherry plum tomatoes, bell peppers and mini watermelons (when in season). The facilities have everything necessary for the handling and packaging of the products. Ángel Gutiérrez is responsible for the marketing of organic crops in the cooperative and is convinced that "supplying quality, safety and working efficiently is the way to go iin order to further boost the trust of our customers. As is already the case with conventional products, CASI also wants to become a leader in the organic sector." The firm has its own brand to market these products: Organic by CASI.