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EXPORTS UP 8% IN 2008 FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PROCESSING MACHINES
The Italian sector which manufactures machinery for handling and processing fruit and vegetables is particularly strong in certain specialist areas, like the production of machines for processing tomatoes and extracting olive oil. This sector has a strong export drive: it registered a turnover of 165 million Euros in 2007 and of that 79% (the equivalent of 130 million Euros) was earned in overseas markets. And the results should be similar for 2008, at least according to the most recent estimates by Assofoodtec, the Italian association of manufacturers of machines, systems and equipment for the production, processing and conservation of foodstuffs.
Indeed, forecasted results for 2008 suggest that turnover in this sector will show an increase of 7.3%, from 165 to 177 million Euros, with 79% of this earned overseas. The value of exports is expected to be up by 7.7% in 2008. The main markets are in Europe, accounting for 55% of the export total. This is followed by Asia with 25%, then America with 13%, and finally Africa with 7%. Assofoodtec has not yet released figures for 2008, but in 2007, the country accounting for the most exports was China, with a value of 12.77 million Euros (+61%), followed by Spain, with 10.24 million (+69%) and the U.S.A. with 8.14 million (+164%). Interestingly, in percentage terms, there has also been a boost in exports to the Arab Emirates (up to 2.92 million, a 121% increase with respect to 2006).
The 2007 results from the Emirates confirm a growing interest in the Arab market in Italian machines and equipment. This tendency is exemplified in the sector which produces systems for olive oil extraction, a niche market in which Italy is the uncontested leader thanks to the Pieralisi group. This historic company from the Marche, founded in1888, was the leader in the development of olive oil systems. As Giorgio Antonetti of Pieralisi confirms: "Between 70 and 75% of the oil extracted in the world is produced using our machines. And between 50 and 55% of the extraction equipment installed in the world is made by Pieralisi. The most important market for us is Spain, but we envisage that the best opportunities for development are in the Arab nations surrounding the Mediterranean basin, from Morocco, where the oil sector is developing significantly thanks to Spanish capitalization, to as far as Syria."
Syria was one of the countries which also gave reasons for satisfaction in 2008 to the Italian company Cavalieri, one of the major world players in the handling and processing of tomatoes and tomato products. "In particular," explains the company's head administrator, Rossano Cavalieri, "we are the undisputed leader in the manufacture of machines for peeling and cubing tomatoes." But the Cavalieri Company, which goes back more than 40 years, is also extremely competitive in its line of equipment for concentrating tomato juice. As well as equipping all the major Italian producers of preserved and peeled tomatoes, the company from Parma does business all over the world. Thirty-five per cent of its 2009 turnover was in exports, amounting to 5 million Euros. "In 2008," Rossano Cavalieri continued, "we had considerable success in Ukraine, Russia and Rumania, as well as in Syria." And by March 2009 the company will have completed an important project in Nigeria, setting up a turnkey tomato processing plant, which, when up to speed, will give employment to 300 local workers.
Another operator in this well-established sector is the Venetian company Meccanofrutta which has had more than 30 years of operating experience in the sector of machines for the food industry. The company started in the fresh fruit sector, making grading machines and conveying and picking systems, but then it progressively diversified into the manufacture of increasingly sophisticated machines for fruit and vegetable processing. Its product range today includes machines for processing cherries (bunch-separators, de-stemmers, grading and de-stoning machines), plum processing machines (de-stemming and de-stoning machines), and olive processing machines (de-stemming, grading and de-stoning machines). It also manufactures machines for processing globe artichokes (grading and turning machines for hearts and bottoms) and machines for processing peppers (de-coring machines). Sixty-three per cent of the company's turnover in 2008 was achieved abroad, and it is particularly active in the markets of South America, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Australia.
Finally, one completely original niche market is catered for by Raytec Vision. The company specializes in X-ray inspection machines and optical selectors. "The strong point of our inspection machines," explains Marco Giusiano of the R&D department, "is their ability to identify, by the use of X-rays, the presence of contaminants such as glass, metal fragments or small stones in the base of glass, or even metal containers." The selecting-machines, on the other hand, give the Italian company a competitive advantage by using a light system which exploits different wave-lengths, even infra-red. "In this way," explains Giusano, "we can make out foreign bodies which are indistinguishable by colour, like a bit of red plastic in a jar of tomato purée or a green insect camouflaged on a lettuce leaf." The company closed its books in 2008 with revenue of 7.5 million Euros and an export quota significantly above 50%, on sales predominantly in Europe and South America, but also in Canada, the U.S.A. and the Middle East. "There are few superior to us at international level when it comes to selecting- machines for ready- prepared products or pre-packed salad," Giusano concludes.