Consumers have a lot of questions when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, and a new EU-backed initiative in Italy is aiming to provide answers.
“How many calories in a pear? What vitamins do kiwifruit contain? Why is it better to choose fruit or vegetables grown in Italy, or in Europe? Is it true that growers abuse pesticides and water or is that just baseless hearsay? We’ve tried to answer these and many other questions.”
That’s Davide Vernocchi. the chairman of Bologna-based Apo Conerpo, one of the largest fresh produce suppliers in Europe, if not the world.
Its new campaign, In&Out, attempts to give consumers more information about what makes Europe’s fruit and vegetable growers and supply chains unique.
For example, it explains how the industry brings healthy, wholesome and sustainable produce to people all across the continent, every day.
It also highlights the nutritional properties of Europe’s key products, and offers ideas for recipes that make the most of those fruits and vegetables.
For a company like Apo Conerpo, the importance of delivering information, not just products, has increased dramatically over the last couple of decades.
Consumers don’t just want the best quality. They want healthy products that have been grown and supplied in a sustainable manner.
“For over 20 years, Apo Conerpo has employed integrated farming systems, agricultural practices aimed at reducing and streamlining the use of chemicals, applying methods with a lower impact on the environment and at the same time, yielding high-quality products,” Vernocchi continues.
“Our challenge over the years has been reconciling some of the most intense farming in Europe with environmental protection and consumer health.”
Supply chain sustainability is a prominent part of the In&Out message. “This is a very complex concept that we've chosen to cover in six macro areas,” Vernocchi explains. “Conscious agriculture, respect for the environment, circular economy, food safety, traceability, and nutritional aspects.”
Every month, the campaign will publish short articles that explain what actually happens each day on European fruit and veg farms.
“Visitors to the website can already discover, for example, the importance of fruit orchards to reducing carbon dioxide in the air, or how much water and energy are saved and used in the field every day,” says Vernocchi, “thanks to the progress made in technological research carried out by members of Apo Conerpo.”
Ample space is also given to the products themselves. “National and European supply chains bring extremely high-quality fruit and vegetables to the tables of millions of people daily,” Vernocchi adds.
Those products deserve to be talked about, he says. “We’ve selected the main products and dedicated a page to each one, with the most relevant nutritional information, so that all consumers can immediately have a range of useful information at their fingertips.
“We are also making the most of this bounty by providing numerous traditional recipes from countries throughout Europe, to maximise the unique organoleptic qualities of the various types of produce, and let consumers know that our fruits and vegetables are not only sustainable and healthy, but also truly delicious!”
As well as launching the website, which will be available in a number of different languages, In&Out also aims to connect with people via social media.
“Another of our goals,” Vernocchi concludes, “is to quash the widespread public opinion that farmers are only out to make a profit, [that they are] enemies of the environment who abuse chemicals, waste precious resources and deplete the soil. The social networks, increasingly relevant in influencing consumer opinion, will also help us succeed in this major communication challenge.”