The ambient food and drink business has announced a partnership with Italian agricultural organisation Coldiretti, fostering financial stability for growers through guaranteed three-year supply contracts.
The agreement ensures the pricing of tomatoes reflects the true costs of farming, so encouraging the long-term sustainability of the industry. Growers will also have access to unique grant and financing opportunities as part of the agreement.
The partnership was officially signed at a ceremony at Coldiretti’s head office in Rome on Tuesday, attended by Jill Morris CMG, the British Ambassador to Italy.
As part of the commitment, farmers will be obliged to implement cutting-edge agronomic technologies to reduce water consumption and the use of pesticides. Princes and Coldiretti said they hoped this would result in higher environmental standards across the industry.
The partnership includes a commitment by Coldiretti farmers to develop and participate in blockchain digital traceability technology to monitor and protect workers’ safety rights throughout the supply chain.
Additionally, Coldiretti will provide official transport for seasonal agricultural workers to signatory farms, and maintain an annual training commitment that encompasses environmental, social and economic sustainability.
When asked how Brexit might affect the partnership, a spokesman for Princes told Food Manufacture: "Whatever the outcome of the Brexit process, there will be no impact on the partnership with Coldiretti."
The partnership marks the latest in a series of significant milestones for Princes in Italy. Last year, the business announced that 100% of the tomatoes it processed from its Italian supply chain in 2018 came from farms with independent Global GAP GRASP or SA8000 ethical accreditation.
“Since 2015, the business has built capacity and awareness amongst its suppliers to align with these initiatives, conducting over 4,000 in-field inspections of growers and farming cooperatives in its supply chain,” said Princes Italian products commercial director Neil Brownbill. “Princes also has complete visibility of the movement of tomatoes during the annual harvest traceable through a GPS installed on its trucks.
“Today, we process in the region of 300,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes annually from our Foggia facility. This includes all our Napolina brand portfolio as well as customer own-brand products that align with our own ethical stance, which are then marketed and distributed across Europe.
‘Significant step forward’
“We feel this initiative is another significant step forward in the enhancement of the Italian tomato supply chain, and the continued improvement in supply chain transparency will be a key driver in increasing stakeholder awareness and ultimate engagement in this process.”
Princes corporate relations director David McDiarmid said: “This partnership demonstrates our commitment to ensuring growers in our supply chain are economically, ethically and environmentally supported across southern Italy. We believe it can also enhance the reputation of the Italian tomato industry as a whole.
“With the support of Coldiretti, and other stakeholders, we will continue to be active in our supply chain to improve and create better value for all involved, including farm workers. This agreement reflects the shared desire that exists for innovation and change to the historical ways of working in the tomato supply chain.”
In November, Princes secured planning permission to redevelop its Long Sutton site, safeguarding 498 permanent jobs.