Continued introduction of new, licensed varieties will enable country’s soft fruit sector to sustain recent market expansion at home and abroad

Carlo Lingua RK Growers Global Berry Congress

Carlo Lingua pictured at Fruitnet’s Global Berry Congress

Italy’s position as a source of top-quality, fresh berries can only grow as demand in the domestic and international markets continues to rise, according to one of the country’s leading soft fruit suppliers.

Carlo Lingua, managing director of RK Growers, says he believes the introduction of better-tasting varieties offers his own country’s fruit export business an important commercial opportunity at a time when other categories face considerable challenges.

“The market for berries is still growing, and this trend will continue in the near future,” he tells Fruitnet. “We are increasing sales in all foreign countries and consumption is increasing.”

RK Growers has emerged in recent years as a major supplier of Italian-grown raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants.

It now works with some of the world’s leading berry breeders, including Plant Sciences for raspberry varieties like Grandeur and Radiance, and more recently with Sekoya, as a licensee of its premium blueberries.

That has apparently enabled its products to stand out in a competitive market – something which Lingua believes is vital.

“Premium varieties, which are characterised by [better] flavour, size, crunchiness and shelf-life, are leading to a significant increase in consumption,” he explains.

“The kinds of packs presented in the market should also be expanded. We should go from the classic 125g to 250g, then up to 500g and 1kg. I think today’s consumer is receptive to this kind of offer.”

Lingua also believes that recent growth in sales of berries can be sustained. “Given the high consumption of berries, it is our duty to offer excellent quality fruit,” he concludes. “Precisely for this reason, the new varieties with the characteristics mentioned above are going to increase consumption even more.”