Melinda and La Trentina, two of Italy’s leading apple marketers and the two major suppliers of the fruit out of the Trentino region, have reached an agreement to work in partnership for the first four months of the new season, with a view to implementing a more formal merger at the start of next year.
The deal effectively sees the Melinda consortium take La Trentina under its wing, essentially under the terms of a temporary commercial deal to be evaluated by late 2017.
La Trentina, which also sells a number of other products including kiwifruit and plums, has handed over responsibility for the sale of its own branded produce to Melinda up to the end of December. It is understood that Simone Pilati, La Trentina's general director, parted company with the group earlier this year.
As for whether a more permanent commercial relationship between the two groups can eventually be forged – a move which would see the newly merged entity take control of just under one-third of Italy’s entire apple production – a decision is expected to be taken by the start of 2018.
Melinda’s involvement in La Trentina goes back to the spring of this year, when a partnership dubbed Amici di Melinda (Friends of Melinda) was created to sell cherries produced by members of both organisations.
Among the advantages reportedly identified by La Trentina’s members are improvements in terms sales management, customer service and efficiency, as well as an opportunity to update its basket of varieties to be more in tune with the market.
For Melinda, the opportunity to apply its marketing expertise to products like kiwifruit and plums, as well as apple varieties it doesn’t currently sell (Granny Smith, for example), also represents an important step.
Michele Odorizzi, president of the Melinda consortium, commented: “This new and even more strategic partnership will consolidate our relationship with La Trentina producer organisation and we are certain there will be no delay in obtaining the expected results.”
La Trentina president Rodolfo Brochetti, said the agreement was the result of “a deliberate and shared approach on the part of the consortium’s [member] coooperatives, aimed at achieving more sustainability and stability for our fruit grower members.”
He added that the proposed merger made sense in the context of an increasingly consolidated customer base in the modern retail arena.