Expansion of arugula acreage at Italian F.lli Napolitano

The demand for unpacked products is increasing in European markets

Even before the European market called for less plastic packaging, the Italian company F.lli Napolitano was already committed to using recyclable materials, focusing on reusable plastic boxes.

"With retail, we work with 80% reusable packaging. Year after year, we drastically reduce the amount of plastic in our packaging, especially the plastic casing of the boxes. We now use one piece of plastic film around the pallet to keep the products fresh during transport. On the other hand, the trend toward unpacked products has been gaining momentum recently in international markets. We are definitely seeing a decline in demand for packaged vegetables. There are two reasons for this: the reduction of plastic waste, and the increased cost of the packaging material which also increases the price of the product."

The main products currently cultivated, processed and marketed in Europe by F.lli Napolitano are spring onion, fennel, arugula, (curly) endive and Trocadero, Lollo and iceberg lettuce. While arugula and fennel are available year-round, lettuce, spring onion and endive are supplied from late October to late April.

"We offer arugula mainly in the classic 1 kg box with 10 or 20 bundles. We sell about 50,000 packages of that a week. We are probably one of the few companies in Piana del Sele that supplies arugula in this packaging. We are noticing that this format is highly appreciated by the retail, catering and wholesale markets. Our brand, which stands for quality and for made in Italy, has been having a solid presence in foreign markets for 10 years."

"Our main strength is that we grow arugula year-round. Even in summer, despite the high temperatures, we can continue to deliver the product thanks to the right cultivation techniques. We still grow the arugula in a traditional way, but for the past 3 years, many processes have been mechanized. Harvesting, processing and packaging are automated, which means that we can process about 3,000 packages in 6 hours and with 5 people. The arugula is packed in trays of 125 or 150 g. This format is especially popular with German retail. Orders for this type of packaging are increasing year after year."

Francesco Napolitano also provided a brief assessment of arugula sales in 2020 and 2021. "In 2020, in full pandemic and with catering restrictions, we continued to work at half speed. Our supply then was towards supermarkets with arugula in trays. This year, we saw a recovery in sales to almost normal levels, thanks in part to the reopening of the catering sector. All in all, we did not do badly this year."

F.lli Napolitano processes some 20,000 thousand heads of smooth and curly endive daily, arranged in reusable boxes with 9 pieces each. Some 30,000 heads of lettuce go out the door every day. Trocadero is the flagship product thanks to the experience gained over the years with this crop.

Another added value of the company from the Campania region is its entirely in-house cultivation, which makes it possible to always deliver a high quality and healthy product that meets the requirements of European retail. It also works with suppliers who are constantly monitored by the company's technical team, ensuring that the products meet F.lli Napolitano's strict quality standards.

"As for the near future, we plan to expand the acreage of arugula. Every year we add 2 hectares. This year we went from 12 to 14 hectares. And in 2022 we also want to experiment with other types of innovative packaging," concluded Francesco Napolitano.

For more information:     
Fratelli Napolitano
Via XXV Aprile, 105
80040- Poggiomarino (NA) – Italy
+39 081 5285232
+39 338 9372614 resp. commerciale Gennaro Napolitano

Contrada Cioffi, 114
84025-Eboli (SA) – Italy
+39 0828 347395
+39 329 1608552 resp. commerciale Francesco Napolitano

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