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Rivoira launches the Made in Piedmont cherry project

An opportunity for fruit growers in Piedmont.  Cherries, if produced and processed in a certain way, can reap the financial rewards that other summer fruits, especially peaches and nectarines, have been unable to provide for a number of years, with payment received in September.  This is also an opportunity for end customers, who are often wary of this delicious fruit due to frequent problems with quality that they have become used to over time.

The Rivoira Group is sure of this. We have spent years travelling around the world to find the best varieties, adapted to Cuneo, and the best farming techniques and the most effective and reliable sorting and calibration technologies. Specifically in 2020, we saw the first results of this firm commitment in the domestic and global markets.

“Harvesting began on 1 June – remarks Marco Rivoira, Director of the Rivoira Group – and we hope to continue the season until the end of July, after 60 days, thanks to the range of cherries that our technicians have selected from around the world, which are well suited to the hills of Cuneo. Further varieties will be planted in the next few years, thanks to an experimental field that we own, where we are testing over 70 varieties right now. Our cherry project is not simply about selecting the best, most colourful, largest and fleshiest varieties with the longest shelf lives: for years, our technicians have studied the best growing methods for the plants, the harvesting phase, warehouse processing and preservation technologies”.

Some specific examples. Production will be spread over 150-200 hectares, the plants are close together, as with apple trees, the orchards are protected by anti-insect, anti-rain and anti-hail nets, on both the top and sides.  This also makes it possible to use fewer phytopharmaceuticals and produce healthier fruit. When harvested they are placed directly in mini-bins that were specially designed and developed by Capp Plast. They are 22 cm high and capable of holding 100-120 kilos of cherries. Collecting them in bins cuts costs by 30% and saves time. The bins are collected on trolleys, which also perform all of the handling of the bins. The product is taken to the new warehouse that is used for cherries in Verzuolo: this has a 4,000 square metre indoor area and it is on the site of the Rivoira Group’s “old” apple warehouse.

“In the warehouse – remarks Marco Rivoira – we installed a cutting-edge hydro-cooling system that sanitises the cherries and uses water to reduce their temperature to 0.5 degrees centigrade in only 5 minutes. This system not only reduces refrigeration costs, it also significantly improves the shelf life of the fruit. For cherry sorting and calibration, we have installed the best machine currently available on the market, Unitec’s Unical 200 Cherry with Cherry Vision 3.0 technology for internal and external quality control of the fruit. This is an ambitious 8-line machine, where you make certain structural changes to perform different processes, with all of the means required even to reach far-away destinations”.

The first cherries will go on sale this week in some of Italy’s large retail groups. Some will be sold in Europe, others will be sent by ship or by air to distant markets already previously served by the Rivoira Group. “Demand is extremely high in the domestic market – explains Marco Rivoira – this year Italian output has struggled due to the poor weather and we are traditionally among the world’s biggest importers of cherries.

We have analysed numerous forms of packaging that add value to the product and provide a service; for the time being we have chosen 100% recycled plastic, which is best suited to this type of fruit.  Besides the packs specifically for abroad, we will have 5-kilo and 2-kilo bulk boxes for the extra size, 50 30 cases with handles and the 500-gram rPET box. The new packaging includes zip-up bags and 400-500-gram cups, always made from rPET”.

Source: Fruit Book Magazine

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