Fruit producers from across Italy are descending on the centre of Rome today to demand support from the Italian and European authorities following what is reportedly one of the worst market failures in recent history.
According to Agrinsieme, the agricultural alliance that has organised the demonstration in Piazza Montecitorio under the banner 'Ciò che vale va difeso' (What's valuable must be defended), a recent downturn in demand coupled with an overlapping of harvesting seasons among European producers have sent prices tumbling.
As a result, the majority of Italian stonefruit and melon suppliers are currently unable to cover the cost of production. Given the sector’s importance in terms of the Italian and European economy, Agrinsieme argues, intervention is required to remove excess product from the market and prop up producers.
Representing around a quarter of national primary sector revenue at a value of around €12bn per year, as well as more than one-fifth of its agricultural export earnings, Italy’s fruit and vegetable industry makes a huge contribution to the country’s economy.
“All of this is at risk if the price trend continues to register double-digit percentage decreases,” said a spokesperson for Agrinsieme.
Data released by Ismea indicated that prices for the main Italian summer fruits were down by around 40 per cent in the week from 14-20 July, with even apricot prices slipping well below the one euro per kilo mark.