A Producer Organisation is a grouping of agricultural producers in the form of a cooperative or association, which must meet certain requirements in order to be recognised as a PO. The creation of POs is governed at European level, for the fruit and vegetable sector, by Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 (CMO for fruit and vegetables) and at national level (Italian Decree No. 85 of 2007, known as the MiPAAF decree) for all other sectors. Generally speaking, they operate at regional level, or at most inter-regional. POs have to meet four main requirements: for the fruit and vegetable sector, without affecting the minimum number of five members, there are various turnover brackets depending on the types of fruit and vegetables sold – in our case, we fall under the EUR 3,000,000 turnover bracket for all fruit and vegetables; the PO must have articles of association with democratic rules (one member one vote; clear rules for membership and exclusion of members; operation based on meetings and approval of the Operational Programme); sales and invoicing carried out directly by the PO on behalf of its members accounting for at least 75% of the turnover of each individual member; the normal operation of the PO must involve a platform to collect and package products; rules governing production that its members must follow; or better yet, a quality manual containing all the PO’s internal rules for the functioning of the various sections (administration, warehousing, technical office and commercial office); the organisation of deliveries; treatment of personnel and the internal functions of the operating structure; the rules on product deliveries; member services; and penalties for non-compliance with the manual. Naturally the requirements for the Packaging Centre or delivery warehouse are much stricter if it is a PO in the fruit and vegetable sector or for other perishable products, such as cheeses. The packaging facilities must be suitable for these products.
For all these reasons, a PO is naturally created only when producers have a shared need and a shared vision. This shared vision is the driving force behind our organisation, and the reason why we are growing year on year, not just in terms of turnover but also when it comes to the number of member producers and our capacity to organise and strengthen the fruit and vegetable sector in Calabria.