The new nickel-free basil line with added selenium has been developed and produced by Orto Ricci in Anzio (Rome) and will soon become available in leading Italian retail chains. Testing was conducted for a year and a half in collaboration with Alessandro Cinelli from Agronova.
"Nickel-free basil with added selenium is an eco-friendly product line designed to meet the needs of a demanding market and for consumers who care about health, safeguarding the agroecosystem and natural resources and about the beneficial properties of food. 12 grams of basil provide 57 mcg of selenium, with the recommended quantity for adults being 55 mcg. It can be used by anyone, even those who are allergic or intolerant to nickel," explains Orto Ricci sales manager Siro Ricci.
"The packaging is fully recyclable. The product is available in convenient 30 g PET, PLA or cardboard tray featuring the new logo. This was done to exalt the quality of the product and guarantee a good shelf-life."
Cultivation and the studies conducted in collaboration with Agronova
Basil with added selenium is grown on one hectare with the hydroponic floating system. "This technique has a low environmental impact as it means we can use fewer crop protection products, reduce nitrates and manage water sustainably by administering a customized nutrient solution. This way, we can produce nickel-free basil that is also free from other heavy metals and add beneficial elements such as selenium," reports Alessandro Cinelli from Agronova.
"The crucial part was finding the right starting product to which we could add selenium. We did so thanks to a nutrient solution that was tested at various concentrations. Agronova improved the technique in its experimental center, then transferred it to Orto Ricci."
Aromatic herb market
Orto Ricci is a company producing aromatic herbs. "The constant research on products, packaging and new varieties means we can stand out on the market and be competitive," explains Eleonora Pistelli.
"The pandemic has not affected commercialization, quite the opposite actually, as the demand for aromatic herbs, especially potted ones, increased. Of course supplies to the H&R channel were affected, but we are expecting a good feedback for the new line, as chefs are becoming increasingly conscious when creating their menus."
The Orto Ricci organic range
Orto Ricci cares a lot about the health of consumers and the sustainable management of natural resources, so much so that it has obtained the organic certification to produce potted plants. It also designed a dedicated logo and packaging.
The importance of the human capital for the company
"The human capital is essential for Orto Ricci, so much so that we have also won a UNHCR award for employing and welcoming refugees. Managing labor has not been easy this year, but we invested a lot on prevention. In general, however, we were not affected by the lack of labor."
Orto Ricci is increasingly focused on a sustainable management of productive resources, so much so that Pistelli says that "we have almost reached zero-residue production and will find new alternative cultivation strategies with a low environmental impact. In the future, we would like to create a nickel-free basil pesto line with added selenium. We are also testing the feasibility of extending this new line to other aromatic essences."