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European Flavors project promotes kiwifruit in the United States

by Christina DiMartino | December 14, 2009
A three-year project titled European Flavors aims to promote food products produced in the European Union to the United States, Russia and Japan. The project was developed and approved in 2007 and was kicked off in early 2008.

J.C. Barros, U.S. marketing director for European Flavors, said that the project is designed to promote healthier eating habits among consumers.

"Our goal is to encourage people to add more fruits and vegetables to their diets," said Mr. Barros, who is headquartered in Miami. "The program focuses on Mediterranean-style diets and traditions, such as those that are typically consumed in France, Greece and Italy, and are considered by nutritionists as a healthy and balanced food regimen."

Mr. Barros said that the diets in these European countries are very light throughout the year, and they include a lot of fresh produce. "They are simple, yet delicious and healthy."

The European Flavors project is funded by the European Union; the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Forestry; and Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli, headquartered in Chiesuol del Fosso, Italy. CSO was developed to create synergy between operators with a goal of increasing competition in the fruit and vegetable sector from European Union countries.

Partners in the program currently include numerous major fruit and vegetable producers and/or processors. Among them is Made In Blu, headquartered in the Province of Ravenna, Italy. The company offers a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables and dried fruit and nuts. Other partners are Afe, Apoconerpo Alegra, Apoconerpo Naturitalia, Apofruit, Cico, Conserve Italia, Europfruit, Granfrutta Zani, Op Kiwisole, Oranfrizer, Orogel and Terremerse, all headquartered in Italy.

"The companies that are a part of the European Flavors' project have strong product representation in Russia and Japan," said Mr. Barros. "In the U.S., the primary products are kiwi and Tarocco oranges, due primarily to import restrictions on other items. Our primary emphasis in 2010 will be to promote fresh kiwi in the U.S., primarily in the Northeast. During the kiwifruit season, which is in progress now, Made In Blu will be shipping kiwi through A.J. Trucco Inc., located at the Hunts Point Terminal Market in Bronx, New York."

Nick Pacia, who co-owns A.J. Trucco with Salvatore Vacca, said that kiwifruit shipments from Made In Blu began arriving in the United States on Nov. 2. "Made In Blu produces kiwi in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy," said Mr. Pacia. "The program will run all the way through the end of March. Typically, demand drops somewhat during the month of December and early January, as kiwi is not highly demanded during the Christmas holidays. Demand picks back up in mid-January. Retail store demonstrations will begin from mid- January to early February. The exact details of where and when the demos will be held are being worked out now."

Mr. Pacia added that retail demonstrations with Made In Blu conducted last season in big-box stores and retail chains resulted in great success. "We had increased sales by 60 percent during the days of the demos and 30 percent increases during the week of the demos," said Mr. Pacia. "The increased promotions that European Flavors is supporting will hopefully drive sales even higher this season. It's a great product, and our relationship with Made In Blu has been ongoing for over a decade. Volumes started out larger this year as compared to last year. The kiwis this season are good quality and have a high Brix level. Our expectations are for a good season with the item."

Mr. Barros said that the retail demonstrations will be held in the Northeast in 2010. The European Flavors' project consists of point-of-sale promotions and other publicity initiatives that deliver an underlying message that conveys a healthy lifestyle to consumers. The project dictates that fresh and processed fruit and vegetables are key foods for living well and healthy. The materials included in the program state that eating 16 ounces of fruits and vegetables a day helps keep people in shape and offers protection from many diseases. The level of protection is proportional to the quantity consumed: The more fruit and vegetables people eat, the better protected they are. Even small increases in the amounts consumed can bring significant health benefits.

Many types of fruits and vegetables are fat-free, rich in fiber and above all, they contain over 100 natural components that together guarantee exceptional results in terms of health, longevity, beauty and general well- being.

The food items promoted through the European Flavors project are produced in compliance with European directives safeguarding the environment, health and safety. They are produced in accordance with low-impact production regulations including integrated pest management. Mr. Barros noted that only a few plant protection products are used when necessary, resulting in high natural flavor and excellent quality. Fruits and vegetables promoted by European Flavors utilize a system of traceability that guarantees the entire food chain, from the field to the consumer.

"This project was presented by CSO to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Forestry and the European Union for a three-year period," said Mr. Barros. "It will possibly be extended to a longer period of time or be expanded into Canada in the future. It will be another year before those decisions are made."