The Freshness From Europe project, run by CSO Italy and jointly funded by several Italian organisations, has made landfall in Canada at the CPMA show this week.
The annual convention and show, held in Toronto, is Canada's biggest fruit and vegetable industry event.
During the last few years the Canadian market has become increasingly important for Italian fruit and vegetable growers, and particularly for kiwifruit, apples, pears, stonefruit, citrus and, this year, grapes after a 5-year halt.
Canada is described as an open, receptive market, well aware of the specific characteristics of Italian fruit and vegetables and thus highly responsive to a project like Freshness from Europe, which aims to promote products of European origin and especially those from Europe's key growing areas.
The Freshness from Europe project focuses on Canada and the US, China, the UAE and Japan, and includes initiatives targeting the trade, promotions, marketing and advertising, and participation at Exhibitions and Events, for a total value of €3.5m over a three-year period (2016-2018).
Italian fruit and vegetable exports to Canada are growing constantly, and Canada is definitely a key target market for Italy, with sales increasing during the last three years (Eurostat data) from 10,825 tonnes in 2013 to 17,855 in 2016, marking a 60 per cent rise in four years.
“For us,” said Furio Mazzotti, director of Made in Blu and one of the funders of the Freshness From Europe project, “Canada is a key market and in some years it has actually been our biggest market. This year we achieved good results with Abate pears, Angeleno plums and Soreli kiwis, although the market for green kiwis was a little flat because it was unable to handle the rise in prices.
“With the Freshness project,” Mazzotti continued, “as well as exhibiting at the Canadian PMA Show we have also organised two trade events in Montreal and reached more than 100 stores with the promotional programmes run within the Metro, Sotis and IGA chains.”