Santo Bellina, administrator of OP La Maggiolina, a leading company in the production, promotion and commercialization of packed unwashed organic baby leaves, explains that "baby leaf salads are basically leaf vegetables that are harvested at an early stage. We are mainly talking about rocket, lettuce, lamb's lettuce, beet leaves and spinach."
OP Maggiolina was established in 2008 by the Bellina and Busana families, leading representatives of the "bagged salad" segment.
"Our core business is the packed unwashed segment, made up of organic salad available in single-portion packets. This type of product has gained popularity over time thanks to its added value to consumers, as the products are fresh, tasty and easy to use."
The group now gathers 12 companies covering 216 hectares in total, 150 of which are grown using organic cultivation techniques. The 2018 turnover was €28,827,595 for over 5,000 tons of salad, 75% of which were distributed on the foreign market.
Companies are located in Campania, Lombardy and Veneto.
Companies part of the PO are certified for GlobalGAP, Tesco Nurture, GRASP, QS-System, Field to fork, Bio, Leaf marque standards.
Over the past few years, the company has developed sustainable techniques. "We focused on the environmental impact of corporate activities for what concerns the production, commercialization and promotion of salad. In addition, we have set up photovoltaic plants for the production of electricity and therefore for the lighting of company areas and we started using electrical harvesters to reduce gas and noise emissions. We also promote agricultural practices such as minimum tillage processing, no-till seeding, green manure, solarization and fertilisers to increase organic matter in the soil."
The cooperative is increasingly concerned with consumer security and is constantly searching for the most modern technologies that can make raw material monitoring easier such as the optical sorter on the lamb's lettuce desanding machine.
Op La Maggiolina owns two facilities one in Martinengo (BG) and one in Eboli (SA). They manage the produce both loose in crates as well as packed unwashed.
The Martinengo facility packages around 2600 tons of produce a year.
Packaging lines are all equipped with metal detectors integrated to dynamic weighing systems and two of the four lines are equipped with X-ray sorters to check the presence of foreign bodies. All the equipment is calibrated periodically as to ensure its correct functioning.
The Eboli facility packages 600 tons of produce a year. It is also equipped with the latest processing equipment and activities are performed at a controlled temperature, just like in Martinengo.
The Eboli facility is entirely dedicated to the packaging and logistics of loose produce (approx. 1800 tons of produce) for the main domestic and European packaging platforms.
All the raw material is checked on the field with multiresidual and microbiological chemical analyses so as to guarantee its compliance before harvesting.
The complete chain
Agronomic research the cooperation with the seed and agricultural machine industry, the development of packaging materials and logistics that guarantees the cold chain help obtain safe high-quality produce.
The reference market for this kind of production is represented mainly by retailers. Of course this means sharing restrictive objectives that comply with the client's specifications.
OP La Maggiolina and the BIA consortium
The PO has been a member of the BIA consortium for the past three years (which gathers 11 producers of organic fruit and vegetables).
"The objective of the consortium is to use aggregation as the best way to directly reach Italian and foreign retailers and shops specializing in organic productions, offering a complete range of organic produce. We fully share Bia consortium's value of environmental and social sustainability and, together, we try to create projects that support these values. A few months ago, for example, we started inserting some disadvantaged youths in collaboration with the Comunità Salernitata foundation, La Rada consortium, Mestieri Campania and CTM Sgrofair and we are hoping to give them a future."
Production calendar (click here to enlarge)
The past? Just as thrilling as the present
"I remember 30 years ago as I started looking for a production area for the salad I was already growing in Bergamo. I found myself in the Sele plain and was immediately impressed with its beauty and soil and weather conditions. I thought 'this is the ideal place to grow salad twelve months a year'."
"Not one hectare of rocket was grown there at the time, but they had a good greenhouse tradition, so I told myself that was where I should start producing. Thirty years later, that territory has become the first salad production district in Europe, relaunching the entire area."
Production calendar (click here to enlarge)
"I was proved right. So much so that the rocket from the Sele plain will soon obtain the PGI mark. This is a great honor for me and I am proud I contributed to this great result."
O.P. La Maggiolina Soc. Agr. a r.l.
Sede legale: Contrada Scorziello, snc
84025 Eboli (SA)
Tel.: +39 0828 1990646
Fax: +39 0828 1990646
Sede Operativa: Via delle Seradine snc
24057 Martinengo (BG)
Tel.: +39 0363 909310
Fax: +39 0363 995777
Cell. +39 3668943341