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Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

Gala's new platform for growth

A major trading centre at Milanís wholesale market is providing Gala Fruit with a new base from which to expand

Gala's new platform for growth

The new facility will help Gala meet a number of different customer requirements

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The completion of a brand new trading platform at Milan’s central fresh produce market has given the city’s leading wholesale company Gala Fruit a major boost at the start of 2020, enabling it to centralise its logistics operation and to target new customers in expanding areas of demand more effectively.

The new platform, which covers a total of 4,000m3, is equipped with three areas for unloading and loading goods: one dedicated to exports, one for foodservice and one for packaged produce, which goes to small, independent stores. With part of its business providing logistics handling for third parties, Gala has also invested in a number of very large coldstorage rooms at the facility, allowing it to set different temperatures for different customer requirements.

Having won a communal tender worth €500,000 to manage the area in question for ten years, the company’s total investment of €1m went into restructuring and refurbishing a previous structure, as well as creating new storage rooms with cutting-edge technology.

“Our passion for this work means we never stand still,” suggests sales manager Luigi Catalano, before explaining what in particular prompted to embark on the project. “Today, finding new wholesale customers is a lot more complicated, so for the last two to three years we have tried and managed to open new avenues,” he explains. “This involves packaged products, exports and horeca.”
When it comes to logistics, Gala’s various activities used to be spread across different parts of the sprawling wholesale market. “In addition to our current wholesale sales stand, we now have an extra location, which helps us to be stronger and more structured,” Catalano observes. “The expansion of our client base and our turnover is proving us right.”

The next few months are set to be a busy time for the group. While its particular strength – and recent success – lies in sourcing and supplying a broad range of salad vegetables and tomatoes, which it exports every day, Gala prides itself on being able to obtain any product in the fresh produce basket for its customers. In the coming months, demand is set to be especially high for oranges and pears, Catalano predicts: “Pear production has been scarce in Italy so far [this season] and so demand has been high.”

Outside of Italy, the UK and Switzerland in particular are rewarding the company’s attempts to develop its export business; and in January, it started shipping consignments to the US, where Catalano sees good prospects. “We we want to increase the number of customers and volumes,” he says. “It’s all about continuous improvement. What the foreign customer needs is an honest contact, reliable in quality and quantity, capable of exporting the best of Italian produce, with all the necessary quality certifications.”

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