New memorandum of understanding sees eight of Italy’s leading grape regions team up to boost sales

Eight of Italy’s most important fresh grape production areas have agreed to pool resources and work together on joint promotional activities to support sales and exports of the fruit.

The mayors of each of the eight zones, which are located in Puglia and together form Italy and Europe’s largest production centre for table grapes, signed a memorandum of understanding to that effect during Regina di Puglia, a four-day event held in Noicattaro, just south-east of Bari.

The initiative is seen as a unique project in Italy’s fruit and vegetable sector. Puglia’s regional agriculture representative Donato Pentassuglia told the event: “Here [is] a new process, above all cultural, to build a network of relationships that is fundamental for our agricultural economy.”

Also present was Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, president of the UniVerde Foundation and former Italian Minister of Agriculture. “Table grapes, a forgotten excellence, are finally valued by telling people about their territory,” he commented.

Giacomo Suglia, president of Puglia export association APEO, underlined the region’s importance when it comes to a product that is second only to apples in terms of the country’s fruit and veg exports.

“58 per cent of Italian table grapes come from here, something like 600,000 tonnes, but we must stop talking about it among ourselves,” he urged. “We must make our role known in the local and national economy.”

Donato Fanelli of Italy’s recently established table grape consortium CUT, believes the new entity will play a vital role.

“The commission is there, and we can become the Assomela of table grapes,” he suggested. “In a few months we have already registered 11,000ha, the first big step for a national product register.”

The eight zones involved are Noicattaro (which has led the project’s initial development), Aldelfia, Casamassima, Castellaneta, Grottaglie, Mola di Bari, Rutigliano, and Turi.