Rolando Drahorad, a leading player in the Italian fruit and vegetable business and one of its most prominent publicists, has passed away in Modena at the age of 79.
He devoted the vast majority of his working life to building his company NCX Drahorad, steering its development as a modern export service provider to key international clients while simultaneously creating a major force in the industry’s communications arena.
From his home in northern Italy, situated between the group’s headquarters in Emilia-Romagna and his native South Tyrol, he travelled the world to promote Italy’s fresh fruit and vegetables – not just his own company but others too, all the time convinced of the importance of creating value along the supply chain.
More than a half century ago, he was among the first to begin selling Italian apples and cherries to customers abroad. At one point, as leader of Vignola’s fruit export consortium, he was instrumental in establishing the Ciliegia di Vignola trademark, one of the first examples of brand marketing for fresh produce.
Appreciating the need to publicise that brand, he set up a new company department dedicated to the business press, going on to represent several of the world’s leading industry titles – including Eurofruit, Fresh Produce Journal and Fruchthandel Magazine.
In 1999, he began to investigate the potential for publishing on the internet. A year later, Italy’s first web-based information portal was born, later being renamed MyFruit.
Shortly afterwards, he oversaw the creation of Fruitecom, a new communications and public relations firm specialising in food and wine. He took on the role of vice-president, managing director and personnel manager.
Two years ago, he handed over responsibility for the running of NCX Drahorad as its president to his son Thomas, who for many years had been working as its managing director and sales director.
That gradual handover had enabled him more recently to focus on what had been one of his great passions, namely writing.
He continued to work for NCX Media, part of the business run by his wife Cristina Burger, and in the past two years he was writing more for the German industry weekly Fruchthandel Magazine.
He had also undertaken to write more about the fresh produce business for his blog QuiFrutta, as well as providing editorial pieces for publications including Corriere Ortofrutticolo, Eurofruit, Frutticoltura and MyFruit.
A blogger and a journalist, he classified himself as a fresh produce industry commentator, preferring the blog format to printed paper more out of a sense of shyness and reverence for other journalists in the profession that he loved and respected – partly because of the friendship and regular conversations he had with them.
At the same time, he was always looking for new ideas and ways of improving the prestige, image, pride and self-esteem of Italy’s fresh produce business.
A skilled communicator
One of his key strengths was his mastery of languages. Born and raised in Merano, South Tyrol, he moved to Bologna at a young age to help choose apples for export out of Emilia-Romagna.
In 1961, then based in Vignola as well as Cesena and Ferrara, he was very much the nerve centre of the apple, pear and cherry export business.
That year, a group of exporters was looking for a director that knew languages well and had commercial experience. He was chosen and led the company Comunexport for several years, changing it to NCX Drahorad in 1984.
That experience remained in his blood. In late 2010 and early 2011, convinced of the importance of concentrating supply in order to create value in the pear business, he convened meetings between the category’s key players in Italy. Shortly afterwards, two major groups of producers acted partly on his advice to create consolidated, export focused entities.
All of us at Fruitnet Media International wish to extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to Rolando’s family, including his wife Cristina, their son Thomas and daughter Carla, and their six grandchildren.