When we talk about seasonal fruit, the strawberry must find a place in the calendar for the whole year because it is possible to produce naturally for almost 12 months thanks to a careful choice of plants and the characteristics of each variety.
The European project Fruit & Veg: Natural Health! promoted by Gruppo Vi.Va AOP turns the spotlight on one of the fruits most loved by European consumers which finds in Italy one of the most suitable environments for growing all year round.
The profile of the first months of harvesting has been traced by Pietro Ciardiello, Director of Coop Sole, the cooperative of the Gruppo Vi.Va AOP, which is the leader in the production of strawberries in Europe with 8,300 tons produced in the 2020 campaign.
“The season of our strawberries,” Ciardiello has commented, “begins in Autumn, in September, with seedlings that begin to produce in November and December with excellent results. The Italian Caprill variety proves to be good to eat and suitable for our very high quality standards. Subsequently, from December to February, the strawberries obtained from rooted bud seedlings come into the harvest where we have the Melissa and Fortuna varieties, both with high quality standards. Finally, from March onwards, the strawberries obtained from fresh plants arrive, with very rustic and disease-resistant varieties that allow us to produce with zero residue, using beneficial insects."
“We are very careful,” continues Ciardiello, “to the wholesomeness of the product and we already have 25 hectares in organic production and 10 hectares in conversion. So far we are very satisfied with the start of the campaign, starting from the autumn we have had a strong demand for the product, higher than our offer and also the production prices have been more than satisfactory.
Until a few years ago, autumn production was mainly intended for export, but today the demand has increased greatly in Italy as well. The strawberry is botanically a winter product that needs low temperatures to bloom. This characteristic, thanks to research in the nursery field, has made it possible to have constant productions without any forcing. In Europe, the strawberry has long been considered a product present all year round and this trend will develop more and more on our market as well."
"Our production," concludes Ciardiello, "is winning because it fully satisfies the demand for sweetness, safety and beauty of consumers from all over Europe."
According to CSO Italy consumption report, strawberry purchases are constantly growing in Europe. In Italy 1.56 kg per inhabitant / year are purchased (CSO Italy data), in Spain the consumption per inhabitant is 1.85 kg and in Germany it is 2.96 kg per inhabitant and the trend is growing.