Allegrini 2018

Sustainability is now in the DNA of Italian farms. With wine at the top

The “AGRIcoltura100” report by Confagricoltura and Reale Mutua. Cantina Produttori di Valdobbiadene at the top of the 2022 classification
Transferring the grapes to the Cantina Produttori di Valdobbiadene

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a business management model and, in particular, has become a distinctive feature of agricultural businesses, so much so that almost half of the companies in the sector in 2021 have a high or medium-high level of sustainability, with an increase of 1% over the previous year for high level companies, and almost four percentage points in the medium level, thanks also to the significant decrease in basic level companies, i.e. those with an initial or limited commitment to sustainability, which fell from 17% to 12.7% in one year. The areas in which corporate initiatives are most widespread are improving the use of natural resources, i.e. water, soil and energy (98.8%), safeguarding food quality and health (91.5%), risk management (76.5%), protecting safety at work (66.8%) and making the most of human capital (64.4%). This is the conclusion of the AGRIcoltura100 Report no. 2, a survey promoted by Confagricoltura and Reale Mutua, covering 2,162 agricultural enterprises from all over Italy and all sectors, presented at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome today, in the presence of, among others, the Minister for Agricultural Policies Stefano Patuanelli.
The report also highlights the close relationship between innovation and sustainability: almost 90% of companies have made investments in the last two years and 82% of the most sustainable companies invest in at least three areas of development, giving priority to mechanization and the renewal of cultivation and breeding techniques.

“There is an awareness that, through innovation, the path to sustainability becomes less complicated”, said Agriculture Minister Patuanelli, “and I see this awareness in companies all over Italy. Of course, I think it is difficult for the owner of a micro-farm to equip himself with drones, sensors and software for remote control, or self-driving tractors. This is why the shared service model must be applied”. “I believe”, the minister added, “that the path towards innovation and the use of frontier technologies is the road that Italian agriculture must take. I have tried to stimulate this path by bringing the 4.0 package to agriculture and I believe it is yielding excellent results. As far as sustainability is concerned, it is the theme that accompanies us in all our speeches, in all the moments in which we look at the effects that the economic policies we put in place have on the production sectors. We are all thinking in terms of sustainability. Now the difficulty we have is to understand how incentive policies affect the country’s production capacity in a market that is still distorted by the pandemic. We are dealing with instruments that we are putting in place today and that will have effects over time, but which are conditioned by a market that has prices that are out of control, such as the high cost of energy, and transport dynamics that are suffering from the difficulties linked to the pandemic”.
Investment and innovation drive business competitiveness and the report underlines just how strong the relationship between competitiveness and sustainability is. Of the most sustainable companies, more than half (52.7%) are also among the most competitive and only a clear minority (4.8%) are at the basic level of competitiveness. Looking at the development quality index (a summary of the economic and business sustainability profile of agricultural enterprises) compiled by Agricoltura 100, 42.9% of enterprises can be defined as having a high or medium-high level of development quality, up from 38.8% a year ago. A substantial proportion, 42.4%, are at medium level and 14.8% at basic level, a good decrease from 18.3% in the previous survey.
“The AGRIcoltura100 survey no. 2”, said Confagricoltura president Massimiliano Giansanti, “shows even more clearly that sustainability and innovation are strongly connected. Moreover, the measures promoted by Confagricoltura for the technological renewal of the primary sector with Agricoltura 4.0 are successfully accompanying agricultural enterprises towards greater competitiveness also in terms of environmental sustainability. Confagricoltura and Reale Mutua have long been committed to common and concrete action for the development of production models in step with the times and attentive to people. And we want to continue along this path”.
“It is fundamental to reiterate that sustainability is profitability, it is certainly not a cost but a plus”, emphasized Vittorio Amedeo Viora, vice-president of the Accademia di Agricoltura di Toro and director of Reale Mutua, “the sensitivity of agricultural companies towards sustainability is very high and agriculture has made great strides towards this goal”. Viora also stressed, at the microphones of WineNews, “the maturity shown by Italian companies from the point of view of sustainability. Producers have continued to provide sustainable food in quantity and, above all, producers are showing themselves capable of meeting the needs that today’s consumers have”.
“Reale Mutua has always been close to agriculture, a leading sector of our country’s economy”, said Luca Filippone, CEO of Reale Mutua. “Sustainable development, innovation and the centrality of people are at the heart of the Reale Mutua and Confagricoltura way of doing business. Through Agri100 and the other initiatives covered by the partnership we intend to generate positive, measurable and additional impacts by combining innovation and human touch”.
Naturally, the biggest companies are the most launched in terms of competitiveness and, as the report points out, they have developed competitive strategies based on sustainability the fastest, reaching 82.7% over 20 employees. But small companies (5 to 9 employees) also achieve an above-average level, with 63.4% ranking high and medium-high.
“Basically”, pointed out Enea Dallaglio of the Innovation Team of the Cerved Group, which carried out the survey, “in 2021, also as a result of the reaction to the emergency caused by the pandemic, there was a strengthening of the awareness of agricultural entrepreneurs of the centrality of the objectives and commitment to sustainability for their business. This signals”, Dallaglio stressed, “an important cultural evolution of Italian agricultural companies. For the vast majority of the companies interviewed, the experience of the pandemic has changed and will change agriculture considerably, bringing six guiding values of sustainability to the forefront. Firstly, product quality to protect food health, considered fundamental or very important by 86.4% of farmers. The report notes that out of the total number of farms, around 17% claim to produce according to PDO or PGI standards. One third of wine enterprises produce DOC labels, while 16% reach the DOCG level. Organic farming is practiced by one third of farms. Immediately after attention to product quality comes the company's commitment to environmental protection (79.2%). Very high levels of awareness are also recorded for other values: consolidating supply chain relations and networking (71.9%), investing further in product, process and supply chain innovation (70.4%), contributing to the promotion of the territory and the enhancement of the local community (67.1%), strengthening the social role of the company towards workers and the community. As far as the quality of employment is concerned, the most sustainable companies are leaders in this as well, and show greater capacity to offer opportunities to women and young people. The share of companies with at least half of their workforce made up of women is 24.1% at the high level of sustainability and falls to 9.6% at the basic level. Also in the high sustainability level companies, the share of youth employment is 44%, falling to 18% in the basic level”.
The president of Confagricoltura, Massimiliano Giansanti, remarked, at the microphones of WineNews, how “the great theme of sustainability is increasingly part of the common activities of agriculture. Our contribution to the ecological transition is fundamental. The major investment processes linked to sustainability now commit companies to making better and better use of everything they need to make a product, to better use of water, to better attention to how the land moves. I believe that agriculture is giving a lot in this process, few people know this, but we must give even more”.
The presentation of the AGRIcoltura100 Report no. 2 concluded with the awarding of prizes to the most virtuous farms in terms of sustainability: first place went to Cantina Produttori Valdobbiadene, one of the largest Prosecco producers, second to Iori, in Abruzzo, dedicated to growing vegetables, and third to Fratelli Robiola Paolo e Lorenzo, from Piedmont, specializing in organic milk production. But wine also played a leading role in the special mentions, with Arnaldo Caprai, a pioneer and icon of Sagrantino di Montefalco, for its attention to environmental impact, the Barberani winery, the history of Orvieto, for quality and healthy eating, and again from the Prosecco area, the Eredi Scala Ernesto & Co. company, for risk management and worker protection, and the Franciacorta-based Ronco Calino, for the quality of work and employment of young people. Two other mentions went to Agricola Lenti Società Cooperativa, from Calabria, for its relations with networks, the supply chain and local communities, and to Azienda Agricola Fagiolo di Laura e Antonella Fagiolo, from Lazio, for its female agriculture. As Antonella Fagiolo explained on receiving the certificate, “there is only one man in our team and don’t ask me why!”.

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