Apo Conerpo’s campaign highlights importance of strict quality criteria, especially when volumes are low and inflation high

Stonefruit harvesting underway in Italy

Stonefruit harvesting underway in Italy

Climate change is subjecting Europe’s fruit and vegetable sector to one of its most complex challenges in recent history.

From a current severe drought in Spain, to the floods that struck Emilia-Romagna in May 2023, and the spring frosts and hailstorms that affected vast areas of Italy.

As a result, 2023 will be remembered for a significant shortage of produce, especially summer crops.

Fewer volumes are available, but this does not make the quality of the fruit and vegetables on the market any lower.

Summer fruit and vegetables may be fewer, but they are definitely still good, and this is largely thanks to the efforts of producer organisations at European Community level.

In particular, it’s down to a strict selection process, guaranteed from the fields to the processing warehouses, which means only high-quality products with excellent organoleptic standards make it into the fruit and vegetable departments of modern retailers.

And this is the work that In&Out, Apo Conerpo’s promotional campaign co-financed by the EU, sets out to promote.

Huge problems

“The devastating effects of climate change have created huge problems for the entire sector, starting with fruit and vegetable growers who have suffered massive damage and seen significant portions of their crops destroyed,” admits Davide Vernocchi, president of Apo Conerpo, Europe’s leading fruit and vegetable grower organisation.

“Frosts and hailstorms, floods and droughts have greatly reduced the quantities available, causing an inevitable hike in shelf prices,” he continues. “With rising inflation, this threatens to have a boomerang effect and lead to a drop in consumption.”

Punnets of peaches roll off the packhouse line

Punnets of peaches roll off the packhouse line

Furthermore, at least at an early stage in the season, the weather also affected the quality of many fruits in terms of size and Brix degrees (natural sugar levels), as well as causing cracking on some species.

“However, thanks to the efforts of the entire supply chain, this complex scenario has not affected the quality for consumers,” Vernocchi insists. “In response to this challenge, starting in the field, our supply chains have begun an even more stringent selection process for the best product.”

That process continues in warehouses that belong to Conerpo’s member cooperatives. “Here, thanks to technologically advanced systems and the painstaking work of thousands of operators, only the best fruit and vegetables pass the inspections and make it onto the shelves of the large-scale retailers.“

Quality guarantee

Guaranteeing a quality product for European consumers is the fruit and vegetable sector’s priority, the president continues.

“And we’ve never failed in this mission, even in the most difficult years like the one we’re currently experiencing,” he says. “But against a scenario with so many critical challenges, starting with the effects of climate change, it’s only thanks to the organised structures and supply chains guaranteed by grower organisations like Apo Conerpo that we can overcome them.”

He concludes: “Despite everything, the extensive efforts in the selection process mean that even today the consumer can be sure of buying fruits or vegetables that are healthy, have excellent organoleptic properties and are sustainable.

“But, above all, selected for their goodness and quality, guaranteeing a taste experience that lives up to expectations. Only under these conditions can European fruit and vegetables prevail.”

Quality checks on cherries

Quality checks on cherries