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Italy aims to become agrifood leader in Russia

(AGI) Moscow, May 19 - Italian entrepreneurs are considering travelling to Russi...

Italy aims to become agrifood leader in Russia
 agroalimentare (agf)

(AGI) Moscow, May 19 - Italian entrepreneurs are considering travelling to Russia to invest in agrifood, as there are no competitors there, profits are good and Italian craftsmanship has an added value. Pierpaolo Lodigiani, chairman of Investa Finance, supports this idea, being active as an entrepreneur in the Federation since the 90s, working in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Even before the Kremlin's embargo on imports of European food products, Lodigiani, together with a Russian partner, bought 10,000 hectares of land in the Krasnodar region, where he established a cereal plantation. A lesson was learned from the sanctions and today those plots of land grow fruit, vegetables and garlic, as the entrepreneur himself told AGI. The 'garlic of Adyghea' (a southern enclave in the Krasnodar region) will be launched next month, being produced entirely with Italian genetics systems, machinery and preservation processes. Having no competitors, Lodigiani aims to become market leader in three years, with a production of 3000 tonnes. "Russia is the second highest per capita consumer of garlic, after South Korea's 2 kilos per year. However, 60 percent of the garlic demand is covered by domestic production coming from small private farms, whilst 40 percent of the wide distribution market relies 90 percent on imports, in particular from China (85 percent), followed by Spain (10 percent)." The idea is to offer a local product, promoting quality and more efficient logistics, beating the Chinese. Another specialty the entrepreneur is focusing on now is lamb ham, for Muslim consumers who do not eat pork. "The major producers are in Spain, but their product would not be accessible to Russians, who would have to pay up to 300 euros per kilo," Lodigiani said. The entrepreneur is following the same rationale for fruit, salad, potatoes and carrots, "Italy is the first exporter to Russia of genetic systems for the production of apples, and the next step will be setting up nurseries. Two or three Italian firms are already following that path. As for apples, in Russia profits are twice as high as in to Italy, because consumer prices are high and the commercial market is free. In five years, the entire apple demand (formerly supplied by China, Italy and Poland) will be met by domestic production." Lodigiani heads three different projects, namely the Belagro company (at Krasnodar), the Sindica Agro and Maaris (in the republic of Adyghea), producing mainly fruit and vegetables. Maaris collaborates with many other Italian companies. "We provide the land, machinery, labour and commercial skills and create a partnership with whoever wishes to start an agricultural production project, and then we go to market together, with the aim of having a joint logistic centre," said Lodigiani. According to the entrepreneur, Italy should not aim at getting big numbers, but focus on the quality of products: "One should not consider it a niche market, because by working well one can build to large volumes." Lodigiani sees no hurdles except the ban on foreigners purchasing land - which "can easily be surmounted by creating a company incorporated under Russian law".. .