A successful network for organic grape trade – O.P. Terra di Bari

O.P. Terra di Bari is an organization that represents 50 grape producers. In fact, the grape producers bring their raw production to O.P. Terra di Bari and they will pack the grapes in order to sell them on Italian and foreign markets. The main foreign markets for O.P. Terra di Bari are Canada, Europe and USA.

The farm        

O.P. Terra Di Bari is a table grape Producers Organization settled in Noicattaro (Bari, Southern Italy), participant farmers aim to achieve a constant improvement and greater enhancement of their production in terms of quality, food safety and environmental protection. Today the organic production of the farm is about 70 hectares of vineyards for a total of about 10.000 quintals of organic table grape and 1.000 quintals of organic cherries. The operational headquarter stands on an about 20.000 square meters area and it is located in the commercial district of Noicàttaro, that is easily accessible by lorries. The large and equipped warehouse with cold storage allows the company to satisfy every customer´s requirement for what may concern the packaging of products, their storage and transport.

Development paths

The O.P. started working in 2005 on conventional products as a cooperative farm. This form of management allowed small farm ‘owners to enhance and add value to their products participating to the cooperative developing. Over the years, the company members adopted innovations to improve their products competitiveness: seven years ago, O.P. introduced seedless grape variety and realized that the use of plant protection products could damage the environment and farm workers. For this reason and for all the advantages in terms of product quality and market price the O.P. in 2014 switched to organic. Another factor of success is the export: 90 % of product in sold on European, United States and Arabian Emirates.

Business model                       

The main profit of the producers organization is generated by grape retail but, thanks to the organic cultivation, the O.P. receives a financial production incentive from the European Community. Moreover, the company is involved in regional projects on innovation in the organic agriculture sector.

Innovative practices              

Innovative and successful practices are three. The most important is the farm association developed since the fists years of activity. About seven years ago, O.P. invested on innovative products as table grape seedless cultivar. At the beginning, this innovation was not well accepted by all farmers but, at the present, this choice is quite acknowledged as a successful one.  The last innovation, introduced five years ago, is the organic farming. Associated farmers realized the advantages of this production method on grape quality, and now 1/3 of production is organically certified.

Future                                        

The O.P. wants to improve its skills in organic agriculture. In the next year, the target is to reach the 50 % as organic production. The long-term goal is to produce all grape according to biodynamic principles. At first, more dynamic farmers should adopt this way of production, than, in imitation of them, all the farmers will implement this innovation. This tendency to emulate was observed in the past, regarding to seedless variety and organic farming adoption. Regarding to the export the goal is to expand the market, but the collaboration in developing commercial agreement is needed from Institution (Region, Chamber of Commerce etc., Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Commerce).

Tips for the learner                                            

The representative of the O.P. pointed out that organic production is not easy to carry out. Farmers that want to lean on organic production need to know that organic production means being always under a strict control and trying to find a space in an increasingly competitive market.

Authors: Donatella Grasso, Annalisa De Boni, Rocco Roma