"We have to deal with the lack of labor every day, so we have adjusted our plans with other products that enable the whole production process to be mechanized, converting strawberry and bell pepper crops into fresh-cut crops," reports Maria Pezone, technician from Società Egiziaca.
"Between October and May, we produce lamb's lettuce, iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, cabbage and endive - 20% is destined to the fresh-cut industry while 80% is destined to the packed unwashed segment."
Società Egiziaca was established in 2010 by 4 producers who shared a love for agriculture. The company covers 140 hectares in total in Giugliano (Campania), 30 of which of greenhouses. Initially, the company produced strawberries, netted melons, bell peppers, industry tomatoes and stone fruit. Then, 6 years ago, the core business shifted to fresh-cut products, entirely removing strawberry and bell pepper crops.
"We grow 100 hectares of lettuce a year for the fresh-cut segment as well as 25 hectares of lamb's lettuce, meaning we handle 3000 tons a year of lettuce and 150 tons of lamb's lettuce. The latter favors a sandy soil to reach the best performances and represents our flagship product, though Iceberg lettuce - of which we handle 60 tons a week -is the most demanded both in Italy and abroad as it can be found in all packed salads."
20 hectares are usually dedicated to netted melons between May and mid-July. What is more, the company grows 70 hectares of industry tomatoes each year, entirely destined to the canning industry. In addition, 10 hectares are destined to stone fruit.
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"From a commercial point of view, 90% of the production goes to the big retail chain, as our salad range reaches various POs in Bergamo, Rome and the Sele plain. The remaining 10% goes to the general markets. We also supply foreign markets by operating on the free market as, since the demand for and price of fresh-cut products increases during the colder months, we worked on plans that meet the needs of said markets. Lamb's lettuce achieves numerous satisfactory results in December and January.
Società Egiziaca implements integrated control techniques and holds the GlobalGAP, Grasp and Leaf certifications. It is also part of Rete del Lavoro Agricolo di qualità.
Società Egiziaca cares a lot about the environment: it takes part in various projects and implements agriculture 4.0 technologies. "As part of the Campagna Pulita project, we placed waste bins in each field then, with the Operation Pollinator project, we left two crops free for the natural development of insects and pollinators thus favoring biodiversity."
"Five years ago, we installed an agrometereology station equipped with a thermometer, pluviometer and anemometer. It enables us to know what happens in our area and how these parameters evolve over the years. When we cultivate tomatoes, we also install a hygrometer to be aware of the water availability and organize our irrigation. All of this is integrated with a functional app that enables us to manage the inputs, thus saving resources."
"We are open to meet market demands and we are willing to grow, change and experiment. One of our short-term objectives is definitely increasing the areas destined to baby leaves and we also would like to mechanize the entire adult lettuce production process. What is more, in the future, we would like to create a brand to promote and make our products recognizable on both the domestic and foreign markets. We would like to widen our assortment by also including radicchio. Finally, we would like to set up an e-commerce website and become available on new markets."