In Italy, more than 5000 species of tomatoes are grown every year, different in color, shape, and taste, with an extension of crops of about 70 thousand hectares, including varieties destined for fresh consumption and processing.
Italian tomatoes are a symbol of Italy that shares its roots with the history of world food. The tomato arrived in Italy in the second half of the 16th century but found its greatest gastronomic expression after the 18th century.
Today it is impossible to think about Italy without referring to tomatoes and their importance in gastronomic culture, and this obviously mainly involves the processed tomato, which Italy is the production leader. On table tomatoes, the identification process is less characterized, but certainly, the numbers highlight a key role of Italy in world business.
The cultivated area of table tomatoes in Italy slightly exceeds 7500 hectares in greenhouses and 17,000 in open fields, while its production is around 1 million tons per year which places Italy in fourth place in European producing countries, while Spain confirms its leadership, followed by the Netherlands and Belgium.
What characterizes the Italian offer is its organoleptic quality, taste, flavor, the texture of the fruit, and differentiation of the offer, both in terms of variety and in terms of the marketing calendar.
Overall, in the European Union, according to the EU Agricultural Outlook For Markets And Income 2018-2030 report, an average of 14 kg per capita of tomatoes are purchased per year, of which 40% are fresh products and the remaining 60% processed. The forecast of the European report indicates a progressive increase in the consumption of small-sized tomatoes, even with an oblong or elongated shape, to the detriment of the more traditional types with large berries.
Tomatoes are among the products at the center of Fruit and Veg. Natural Health!, the project funded by the European Union and AOP Gruppo Vi.Va., Almaverde Bio, Apofruit, Codma, Coop Sole, Mongolfiera, Ortoromi, Terremerse, Solarelli, Op TerrediBari for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the dissemination of the values of European fruit and vegetables among consumers in Italy, Romania and the Netherlands.
"Of course," declares Sergio Giardina, Director of OP la Mongolfiera, "The problems of the cost of energy and the technical means of production to which climate change is added make any quantitative forecast in the medium-long term difficult but it is beyond doubt that the qualifying offer, grown in the most suitable areas of the planet such as Italy, will always have a prominent place in European consumption."
"Our production, in Sicily," Giardina continues, "is concentrated on small berry tomatoes with high added value. The production of the next campaign will certainly be slowed down a bit by the uncertainty of this moment in terms of costs of technical means and energy costs, as is the case throughout Europe. It must be said that our production model, in Sicily, has unique characteristics. In terms of the quality of the offer but also in broader terms of link with the production area, environmental protection and social role. Let's not forget that the labor costs, in our country, account for 40-50% of the general production costs and this suggests how socially important the cultivation of table tomatoes is in Sicily."
In Europe, the main consumption drivers of table tomatoes are related to taste, ease of use and nutritional requirements and certainly the production coming from the most traditionally suited areas have all the requisites to obtain the maximum satisfaction of consumers.