Genoa - The fruit and vegetable market in Genoa was reborn in 2009, with the opening of the new headquarters in Bolzaneto. Today the company that operates it, SGM, is relaunching its business with initiatives that are intended to grow the market’s logistical vocation.
“It is an experiment that we are undertaking, alongside our basic traditional business, which will remain intact. The fruit and vegetable market is changing in itself, orienting itself towards agri-food logistics and the movement of goods that are a bit more aimed at services and not only at products,” SGM’s President Stefano Franciolini asserts. SGM plans to develop the market’s strategic position. “Even the operators are orienting themselves towards optimising their flows. And the markets are orienting themselves more and more towards becoming agri-food centres. Which means having services connected to the products. Last but not least, the fact that Genoa’s market has a privileged position, inside the logistics corridors and close to a port and the motorway interchange that leads to Milan. It is very convenient. And it is at the crossroads of two fundamental axes for logistics, South-North and East-West. It is right to take advantage of this situation.”
What initiatives do you intend to carry forward to develop services for logistics and with what sort of investments?
“In terms of investments, the facility is already oriented towards this activity. For example, we offer a weighing service for containers, (which was made mandatory by the recent regulations on VGM, [editor’s note: verified gross mass]), which did not require special investments. This allows us to carry out an average of 70-80 container weighings per day, with peaks of 100. Having a logistics platform within our facility, with refrigerated areas and loading docks, with the organisation of flows that we are overhauling and applying with more modern criteria, means the traditional activities of the market are expedited and allows the SGM operating company to offer alternative services.”
How are you progressing?
“We hired a logistics consulting company to review and manage the flows of goods in our market to work alongside us for a certain period. After this first phase, we will continue on our own. From what we can see, the operators are already obtaining good results from this in terms of how they receive and distribute goods. It takes less time and the flows are more effective in distribution.”
How important is promotion to you?
“Our participation in Fruit Logistica in Berlin is the consequence of our programme. We meet people [there] and learn things. We had been there before in the past, but we stopped going. Now we are going back again, and for good reason. In order to participate, we joined Italmercati, which is a national network that brings together 9 agri-food centres with a total of 1,307 companies, the largest of which are in Rome and farther south.
What effect is the greater attention that you are paying to logistics having on SGM’s business?
“New services, and therefore we hope greater volumes. It brings greater efficiency for the operators. The services go from weighing containers to packaging, order picking, the operation by which after a client has stored goods in an area in a generic manner, he then extracts an individual product to send it to their customers.”
What are the problems that you must deal with?
“Agri-food logistics has its own difficulties because of the fact that the products are perishable. Among other things, the Genoa market handles fresh products, or refrigerated products at most, and products that are refrigerated for ripening, not frozen goods. Therefore our logistics are very fast, with fresh products, with little storage and lots of movement. It’s not for no reason that we are aiming [to improve] the efficiency of goods arriving and departing.”
What synergies could there be with the port?
“As soon as the market was created, the logic of the distribution of fruit within the port changed. There is no longer a fruit terminal. Now the port is one of the elements in the logistical corridor that includes the fruit and vegetable market, as well. In an indirect way, the cruise sector is important to us. The cruise lines no longer have established home ports. They are supplied and handle passengers in more than one port. Because there are two cruise ship hubs in this area at Genoa and Savona, the cruise lines Costa and MSC use them as supply points. Our proximity to these companies could make it possible to develop this business in the future.