LA DORIA GROUP: 2023 TOMATO HARVEST BEGINS
Four facilities, around 900 seasonal workers, 20 associations representing more than 300 agricultural producers supplying tomatoes from Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Lazio and Molise.
The Group’s objective is to reach 280,000 tonnes of 100% Italian processed raw material, despite climate-related difficulties, focusing on issues of sustainability and innovation.
Angri (SA), July 26, 2023 – The 2023 tomato harvest has begun for La Doria S.p.A., the leading Group in the production of tomato-based products, sauces, pulses and fruit juices for the supermarket private labels market, controlled by the Investindustrial fund and also held by a number of members of the Ferraioli family. This is a crucial moment for the Group, which is the leading European producer of peeled and chopped tomatoes in the retail sector. The Tomato Line – which includes Peeled and Chopped, Purée, and Cherry Tomatoes – is one of the core branches of the Group’s portfolio and generated sales of Euro 224 million in 2022, up from Euro 180.7 million in 2021.
While some uncertainty surrounds the 2023 harvest following an approximately 10-day delay to the start of the field harvesting stages (caused by heavy rains in May and June, which delayed transplanting) and high temperatures in June (which could impact late tomato development), the Group is seeking to exceed the amount of raw material processed in the 2022 harvest. In fact, La Doria expects to be able to process approx. 280 thousand tonnes of 100% Italian raw material.
La Doria Group CEO Antonio Ferraioli: “We are aware that 2023 presents non-negligible uncertainties in terms of the climate, which may in the coming weeks affect the agricultural yield and thus the availability of tomatoes for processing. Despite these unknowns, we have confidence in the strength of La Doria’s production and are therefore also confident of improved results compared to the 2022 harvest, thanks to both the efficiency of our facilities and the strong relationships that the Group has built over the years with the hundreds of Italian agricultural companies that supply us with raw material.”
At the national level, fresh tomato production for processing is forecast at 5.6 million tonnes in 2023, up 2% on 2022 due to an increase in transplanted acres, which number approx. 70,000 in 2023. These figures reflect the extent to which the 100% Italian tomato today represents, on both domestic and international markets, one of the best-loved consumer products, while there is still ample room for growth on overseas markets.
La Doria processes two types of fresh tomatoes: long and round tomatoes, both of which are harvested using fully mechanised systems and processed at its facilities with the support of around 900 seasonal workers. Raw material processing takes place no more than 12 hours after it is delivered to the processing sites, thereby preserving its organoleptic characteristics. The production range of the La Doria Group’s Tomato Line includes peeled, chopped, purée and cherry tomatoes, which will go to market for the leading brands in the Mass Retail – Private Label – segment, both domestically and overseas (more than 80% of La Doria’s revenues are generated abroad and about 97% are generated by private labels), in addition to Group brands.
As the tomatoes are harvested and delivered by the 20 associations representing around 300 agricultural enterprises operating in the regions in question (Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Lazio and Molise), processing to create tomato-based products is carried out at the Group’s four facilities (of the total six) dedicated to this product line, at sites in the province of Salerno, in Angri, Sarno, Fisciano, and Lavello in the Potentino area.
The 2023 harvest will see the La Doria Group continue to invest in the Agricoltura 4.0 project, which seeks to spread the culture and best practices of precision agriculture among agricultural companies in southern Italy. Through exceptional technological innovation and the use of big data – collected from proximity sensors – Agriculture 4.0 leads to a significant reduction in waste, efficient, responsible management of water and the use of agrochemicals, a more respectful and balanced approach to the land (which receives just the right amount of inputs at the right time), and higher certified food product quality. The latter is an essential element in establishing a relationship of trust with today’s consumers.
“La Doria has always paid close attention to issues of sustainability, technological innovation and ethical work. Specifically, one of the most recent projects our company has launched is “Agriculture 4.0,” an initiative we hold very dear. The Agriculture 4.0 project has seen sensors installed in fields which, by collection atmospheric data, will provide farmers with important information, by indicating when to irrigate or use phytochemicals, for example. A year of experimentation led to a 30% reduction in water use and a 20% reduction in chemical treatments for the farms involved. We therefore plan to expand the project to other farms in the future, and hope that it can be introduced independently by our farmers in the years to come. In agriculture, technology is also an essential tool in positively impacting the environment and working conditions.” – concludes Antonio Ferraioli, Group CEO.
La Doria has always paid close attention to sustainability issues, as evidenced by the many projects it has introduced to promote the use of technology in agriculture. This use enables better management of natural resources, the protection of biodiversity and the application of best practices in every aspect of product life, from the field to the shelf, all of which are requested by the Group’s most important national and international partners. Production quality and sustainability is then verified through continuous internal audits and by frequent Group and customer audits which are carried out directly in the field or at production facilities. In 2022, this unwavering commitment saw La Doria awarded Social Footprint certification for its tomato supply chain, the first of its kind to assess a product’s social footprint by analysing the organisation, people and production chain. Before that, the Group obtained Friend of the Earth certification, which safeguards and guarantees the Group’s commitment to promoting sustainable agricultural practices and protecting the entire ecosystem, including through projects affecting biodiversity (pollination). For a number of years, La Doria has also applied an ethical risk monitoring system for working conditions in the tomato supply chain, based on the guidance provided by ISO 26000, and has recently joined the United Nation Global Compact (UNGC). This is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, based on ten universal principles related to human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.
Close cooperation with farmers allows the Group to closely monitor every stage of tomato cultivation, from planting, to transplanting, and harvesting. In this area it has obtained ISO 22005 certification, which attests to the transparency and complete traceability of the product’s history.
La Doria Spa
La Doria Spa, held 65% by investment companies of the Investindustrial VII L.P fund, with the remaining 35% held by members of the Ferraioli family, is Europe’s leading producer of canned pulses, peeled and chopped tomatoes in the retail channel and among Italy’s leading producers of fruit juices and drinks. La Doria is also the leading producer in Europe of private label ready-made sauces. 2022 revenues totalled Euro 1.018 billion, of which over 97% generated by the private labels segment with the major domestic and international retailers.
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