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The contracts are designed to ensure farmers can invest in resources while implementing best practices

Princes has signed pre-harvest tomato supply contracts in southern Italy to guarantee fair pricing and financial stability for around 300 Apulian producers in 2023.

For the second year in row, the Napolina owner has committed to pricing it said reflected the current costs of production and delivered a profitable return to growers ahead of the harvest season.

The prices agreed upon were set in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Foggia and endorsed by Italian agricultural association Coldiretti.

The contracts are designed to ensure farmers can invest in resources, while implementing best practices to enhance social and environmental sustainability during harvest season.

“We’re extremely pleased to have finalised all tomato contracts for 2023, delivering on our promise once again to guarantee fair and transparent pricing for growers, well in advance of the harvest season,” said David McDiarmid, corporate relations director at Princes. “Committing to pricing that reflects the actual costs of production is the only way to ensure that farmers can remain both profitable and sustainable.”

Ethical practice

Last year, it launched the contracts in advance of harvest season (rather than as late as July as seen with other suppliers) as “an important ethical practice”.

Late contracting has been cited by NGOs as a key factor to forced labour and human rights abuses, Princes said. However, the practice continues and the rest of the industry often concludes negotiations just a few weeks ahead of harvest.

“The past 12 months has been a particularly turbulent time for the industry, which makes our social sustainability efforts all the more important,” McDiarmid added.

“We remain firmly committed to protecting the rights of workers and supporting the fight against exploitative practices, to bring our customers and consumers a high quality and 100% ethical, ‘Made in Italy’ product.”

Princes has committed to source 250,000 tonnes of fresh Italian tomatoes this year.

The company has worked with Coldiretti since 2019 to provide financial stability to growers through guaranteed three-year supply contracts across 30 partner co-operatives.

Princes also established a partnership with Oxfam Italy in 2022, which involves providing training on labour rights, ethical practices and safety at work as well as health insurance.