Italian Women’s Produce Association: Interview to Linda Carobbi – English Version

The Italian Women’s Produce Association,  has been created at the end of 2017 from the idea of a group of 30 entrepreneurs and experts from all over the production chain, united by the desire to create a network of professionals to promote ideas and projects, organize events, and play an active role in the field, with communication from a female perspective.

All involved with important fruit and vegetable enterprises, international businesses and leading companies (belonging to each segment of the industry, from nursery to production, from processing to post-harvest, from logistics to marketing and distribution), the Italian Women’s Produce Association have the specific purpose to bring the production world closer to the final consumer, promoting the perception of value of fruit and vegetables from a scientific, production and produce point of view, and developing the participation of the female sphere in the fresh produce sector with a view to equal opportunities.

Logo Associazione

The Association has posed several challenges since its inception and numerous objectives have been achieved. For these reasons we have decided to elaborate on this important Association interviewing one of the founding members Ms. Linda Carobbi, who has been working for Savino Del Bene S.p.A. (International Freight Forwarder based in Florence and with a global turnover of over 1.5 billion Euros) for over 18 years, where she currently holds the role of Corporate Director Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Vertical  Market.

In her work, Ms. Carobbi, attending soon for the important Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin, coordinates and supports a team of worldwide people specialized in the logistic and international air/ocean shipments of fruit/perishable in the world.

Thanks to her great experience, within the Association she takes care of developing the International relationships, as well as serving as member of the Board of Directors of Global Women Fresh, which precisely at Fruit Logistica, in Berlin, will organize an event named “Moving gender diversity from Conversation to Action” in order to share ideas and inspire the global agricultural community to support the professional growth of women.

Which were the reasons that led to the birth of the Women’s Fruit and Vegetable Association? Where does the need to meet in a network arise?

It comes from the desire to bring together different professionals in the field and communicate with a whole new vision in a sector which has always had a male characterization. It is the need to network and to promote more and more, both on social and traditional channels, a fundamental topic for our Made in Italy agri-food, with a completely different approach which also aims to directly involve the consumer with B2C initiatives.
Other direct-to-consumer platforms are also being developed in Italy at this very moment in the agri-food business, with amazing storytelling and customer engagement.

What are the values ​​that distinguish the Association?

Our Association revolves around a series of key themes, to name a few: equal opportunities, product culture as a tool for growth and development, communication and innovative language with a focus on storytelling, protection of the territory and tradition, attention to social causes that affect women.

Within the Association, the entire Produce supply chain is fully represented by your members, which is the easiest way from the point of view of the Association to bring the production world closer to consumers and promote an open, dynamic view of the fruit and vegetable field, capable of forming a system?

It is necessary to use an innovative language in the communication within the sector, thereby seeking to transfer the values ​​of fruit and vegetables and what lies behind the sector to younger people. It is important to take care and deeply transmit  topics such as the defense of the environment, biodiversity and sustainability, by looking for new education tools for the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Donne Ortofrutta

On the official website of the Association it is said that at the center there is the idea of creating a network of professionals to present ideas and projects, organize events, be an active part in sector communication with a female “vision”. How do you coordinate the initiatives on the territory being present in an ever more widespread way on the regional territories?

In the month of October 2019 our second General Assembly took place, guests of AOP Luce in Sessa Aurunca (Caserta, IT), production area of the Melannurca Campana PGI (The Melannurca Campana is a Protected Geographical Indication product also defined “The Queen of Apples” because of its particular qualities and its traditions going back to the Roman Age). In order to continue to increase our presence in the production areas, the Regional Coordinators have been appointed, who will remain in charge for a year and will promote the themes of the Association and the values of the female vision of fruit and vegetables, while seeking new memberships in each production areas/provinces.

The Italian Women’s Produce Association was born in December 2017 and to date it already has more than 100 members. What are the objectives that the Association has achieved so far?

One of the most important is undoubtedly the agreement between our Association and Apoc in support of a nutritional education initiative aimed at cancer patients of the IRCCS of Bari. Do not forget also the institution of the Danila Bragantini Award that enhances the innovative contribution made by women in every aspect of the production chain. The second edition took place in Genoa on January 24th , 2020 on the occasion of the event “Protagonisti dell’Ortofrutta Italiana” dedicated to the Protagonists of the Italian fruit and vegetables organized by the Corriere Ortofrutticolo. In this last edition, the Award was won from our associate Ms Marianna Palella, CEO of Citrus Italia, an Italian fresh fruit company that finance also the important Fondazione Umberto Veronesi that is dedicated to cancer treatment.

Premio Bragantini

Which are the future challenges of the Association on a national scale?

Among our future objectives we have the diffusion of product culture and innovation. In this regard, we have signed an annual agreement with Imageline in order to collaborate in the organization of meetings aimed at farmers for the dissemination and application of innovative digital farming techniques. In addition, we will start a co-branding project in cosmetics (after the one already signed in Italy with Foen) with a group of African women producers with whom we have signed a “collaboration protocol”.

The Italian Women’s Produce Association has just blown out 2 candles on the cake, and among the objectives of 2020 there is the activation of an area dedicated to the training of women working in this sector, which will be the skills in this training?

Indeed, training will be another key element on which the Association will focus in 2020: the idea is to create a training project dedicated to women engaged in Pick &Pack and selection activities in the warehouse.

 

Ms Carobbi, do you also want to add few words about the other Association you are part of, Global Women Fresh? Who are the members of this Association?

Global Woman Fresh was established a year and a half ago when Julie Escobar, Monica Bratuti and Viviane Schappo, the three co-founders,  decided to get together using their combined experience of 45 years in the fresh produce industry to create an opportunity for women to network and connect, with the mission of empower and inspire women in the Ag business all the way from the “farm to the fork”, focusing discussions within five pillars of the industry: Food Waste, Sustainability, Social Impact, Technology and Innovation.
GWF have a partnership with The United Nations who have a project called SheTrade.  This is an initiative to empower more than 3000 women by 2021 in under-developed countries.
In the Board of Directors, where I am part of, there are women from all the world that are involved in the agrifood business, to mention a few: Ms Natalia Gamarra from United Fresh Produce Association, Ms Lori Taylor from The Produce Moms and Ms Anouk Sijmonsma from PMA USA.

The message of our Associations wants to be: networking makes us stronger! 

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