England Italy flags

Fruitnet.com's partner publicationsFRESH PRODUCE JOURNAL, EUROFRUIT, ASIAFRUITandAMERICAFRUIThave teamed up to publish a series of special interviews to coincide with the FIFA World Cup, featuring a member of the fresh produce industry from each of the 32 nations involved in the tournament.

Today, it's Mark Newton from English company Freshtime and Federico Milanese of Italian firm Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli, ahead of their national teams' Group D clash later today (14 June):

What is your firm’s world-beating service or product?

Mark Newton:Our goal is to turn quality produce into delicious salads, snacks and deli fillers. We take extra time to make sure we use the freshest ingredients and we always score top marks from our customers!

Federico Milanese:We have lots of excellent products, but one of our world-beaters is kiwifruit, for which we are the leader in terms of production. We're promoting kiwifruit to an increasing number of markets around the world in regions even further afield such as Asia, North America and the Middle East.

What does the World Cup mean to people in your country?

MN:Nearly half a century after we last won a World Cup England fans have learned to temper their expectations. But we all love a big tournament and when we English get the chance to fire up the barbecue and watch a big match sales of salads tend to go through the roof!

FM:For Italy, the World Cup is a unique event and it has a unique impact on the market. It's very important in terms of food consumption and, although I haven't noticed much so far in terms of promotional tie-ins for fresh fruit and vegetable products, there could conceivably be a greater level of interest for exotic produce including Brazilian fruit. During the World Cup there's usually a significant increase in the volume of fresh convenience products consumed.

How do you think your national team will fare in Brazil?

MN:We’re in a tough group and the climate won’t help us, but Roy Hodgson has selected a fresh young squad with some exciting attacking talent so there’s room for cautious optimism.Prediction: Finish second in group, and then reach the quarter-finals before losing to hosts Brazil.

FM:I'm more concerned about the first group stage than I am about the latter stages of the tournament. Assuming the Azzurri make it to the second stage, we could do very well.