The blueberry campaign in Piedmont has just kicked off. At the moment, no difficulties related to consumption have been recorded, which remains at the same levels as in other years. The demand for blueberries is strong and the quality of the Piedmontese product is excellent.
"We hope that this week's rains will not affect the high-quality characteristics, but overall we can say that this is one of the best qualities of the last few years," said Giuseppe Ribotta, who founded the Ribotta Group agricultural cooperative society in 2014, based in Revello, in the province of Cuneo.
"Compared to last year, yields are slightly lower. This is probably due to an abnormal winter, warmer than normal, which has had an influence on the plants - continued Ribotta. In Piedmont, the Ribotta Group has about 20-25 hectares dedicated to blueberries. The main and most requested variety is Duke, which is characterised by a very sweet taste, a good size and an excellent shelf life. In addition, this blueberry reaches maturity at a time when Spain is at the end of its season and Poland has not yet started, so it allows us to fill a gap in the market.
The blueberries are packed in 125, 250 or 500 gram baskets, ready to eat and branded Ribotta Group. "In terms of prices, I expect a better year than the previous one, and I hope it will be a good season from start to finish".
"The main destination country for our blueberries is the United Kingdom, where we are present with 60% of the fruit. The remaining 40% is distributed between Italy, Germany, Switzerland - said Ribotta. Speaking of Brexit, we are not registering any change. We are continuing with the pricing in Euros, as we have always done".
The entrepreneur highlighted how the English and Italians have a different approach and awareness when it comes to blueberries. "In the UK, blueberries are one of the most popular and consumed fruits because of their nutritional properties. This is the result of a long-term commitment and a well advertised effort by the entire supply chain, and that is not all. In Italy, you don't see the same thing".
"The commitment must come first and foremost from us producers" - pointed out Ribotta. "In Italy, blueberries are still not widely consumed. In English supermarkets, on the other hand, there is a corner dedicated only to blueberries, located in the fruit and vegetable department. We must therefore promote the importance of this fruit and its consumption, especially in a period such as this of Covid-19."
With regard to the situation linked to the Coronavirus, "Our warehouses and employees have been trained to take all the necessary measures to avoid possible contagion - concluded Ribotta. "We have set up temperature gauges for anyone accessing our facilities and, of course, everyone is wearing gloves and masks."