Aartsen pursues a strong brand policy, with a distinguishing brand for each country. For Italian products Aartsen created Capito. This brand encompasses a growing assortment of fresh and high-quality products from an increasing number of specialised partners, from South Tyrol all the way down to the southern tip of Sicily. One of these valued Italian partners is OP EuroCom, a specialist in the cultivation and export of babyleaves.
An Italian family business
Enrico Rossi and Fabio Pierri from OP EuroCom paid a lightning visit to Aartsen in the Netherlands. Fabio and Icilio Pierri are the owners of the company and Enrico Rossi is its Sales and Marketing Director. Nonstopfresh magazine and Enrico Rossi extensively discussed his business and the ongoing collaboration with Aartsen.
OP EuroCom is a family business founded in the Campania region in 1995 with various local growers as partners. The company is run by Fabio and Icilio Pierri. Enrico is their nephew.
OP EuroCom experienced very rapid growth, from 15 hectares in 1995 to 230 hectares today. Enrico Rossi proudly shared: ‘Our daily production throughout the year amounts to 45,000-50,000 kilos. We produce all kinds of baby leaves, including rocket, teen spinach, mesclun, red chard and baby spinach, and we also added fresh cut herbs a couple of years ago. All of our products are super fresh; each morning we harvest, complete our quality check, prepare the vegetables and package them. This means that they are ready for export that same day. We distribute our products throughout Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands. In the Benelux region, our freshly packaged products are exclusively marketed via Capito, Aartsen's private label. As we are convinced that focusing on one segment of the market brings out the best in our company, we aim our activities solely at export. We import nothing and grow all the products on privately owned farms in the Piana del Sele region, in province of Salerno.’
The conditions in the south of Italy are excellent. ‘The fertile soil, the relief and the meteorological conditions together provide ideal conditions for growing baby leaves. We have many greenhouses which allow us to produce and supply throughout the year; continuously aimed at the same assortment of high-quality products with a consistent quality level. As we produce all year round, without any rest period, we must make sure to plan everything perfectly, and since everything is geared to everything else, this also includes the timely replacement of our greenhouse covers. All the detailed planning of these activities and putting them into action enables us to provide the best possible service to our customers.’
‘We are in direct contact with our customers. We prefer to not use the services of agents to prevent any lack of clarity as to what our customers require from us. You get to know each other well after a while and it also enables us to respond to any needs in the best possible way. This approach also enables us to respond directly to specific requests from international customers as each country has its own requirements, wishes and standards when it comes to products, flavour and packaging. We see that as a challenge and we are continuously looking for the right solutions for specific requirements. In addition, it is very efficient to negotiate directly with our customers, therefore we visit our customers every year. That’s why we’re here at Aartsen. It gives us the opportunity to inspect the national sales markets and view any new developments within a country with our very own eyes. Our market is very dynamic and we continuously need to respond to developments.’
OP EuroCom supplies products for Aartsen's private label, Capito. ‘Aartsen made an important strategic choice in developing a brand for each country. We fully support that choice and in our experience it works very well. The collaboration is excellent and we always consult with Aartsen staff regarding the products and packaging. This results in very high-quality products in attractive packaging. Thanks to Capito, shopkeepers, market vendors, entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector and consumers know exactly what to expect.’
The Italian family business has collaborated with Aartsen for fourteen years. ‘It developed into an excellent partnership with a great amount of mutual respect. We are a transparent business and always put great effort in long-term relationships as a great partnership is what it's all about. Here, quality and trust play a big role. We observe all our agreements with Aartsen and so do they. There is a lot of competition in Italy, but clearly Aartsen managed to choose the right partner,’ Rossi shared with a confident smile.
Strive for the best
‘OP EuroCom once started at zero and has grown substantially in a short period of time. The growth and performance of our company are the result of various factors and of the efforts of all the people working here, as we all have a task to fulfil. Within the management team we continuously consult on new strategies, ideas and decision-making. Our ambitions are not strictly defined because I am convinced that when your ambitions are too high you seldom manage to realise them. However, if you stop thinking about them all day, if you don't continuously focus on your ambitions, you have a far better chance of actually achieving them, thanks to the great ideas and solutions that will spring to mind spontaneously.’ Enrico Rossi concluded: ‘We always strive for the best possible performance - the best for our business and for our customers. We will continue to invest in our company and because we are a family business we are free to make our own choices.’
Baby leaves is the collective name for early harvested lettuces, herbs and leaf cabbages. Originally quite popular in the hospitality industry, baby leaves are currently also in high demand by private consumers. Although they can all be eaten separately, mixes have become increasingly popular. There are growers that sow the various varieties mixed with each other while others create a mix of young lettuce varieties during the packaging process.