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Milan’s freshest picks

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Located 2.5 km from the city’s famous cathedral, Milan’s wholesale agricultural market invites retailers and restaurants to indulge in the most tempting fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and flowers. On Saturdays, the legendary market additionally opens its doors to the public. More and more foodies and gourmets are taking advantage of this unique shopping experience. Six days a week, around 170 wholesalers are selling and buying goods; 100 local producers are associated in a syndicate.

“Milan’s wholesale agricultural market is an important institution of the city of Milan,” sums up President Cesare Ferrero. “Similar to many other European markets, its roots go back to the post-war years, a time when fresh food was in short supply. Back then, markets ensured the quality of products at attractive prices. They were extremely important for cities such as London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome. The Milan market was established in 1965. As its concept was quite innovative back then, it soon became a crucial trade hub for Italy and Europe.”

Today, Milan’s market is Italy’s largest in terms of the quantity of products distributed. 1.132 million tons are sold each year – with fruit making up the lion’s share – resulting in a business volume of more than one billion EUR. Taking these figures into account, the fruit and vegetable market is the leading employer in Milan with approximately 11,000 people on its payroll.

SOGEMI – an acronym of Società per l’impianto e l’Esercizio dei Mercati Annonari all’Ingrosso di Milano which means ‘company for the installation and organization of wholesale food markets in Milan’ – is responsible for the management of this important trading hub, and the company has ambitious plans. “Every day between midnight and 4 a.m., around 200 trucks arrive to deliver and unload various products,” explains Mr. Ferrero.

“Until 10 a.m., greens, poultry, fruit, flowers, dairy products and fish are on display. Around 4,000 buyers visit to purchase goods to be distributed to local markets, retailers and restaurants. Strict quality standards, especially in terms of fish, ensure utmost quality and freshness. A market can be compared to an airport where many people and goods are moved. Our problem is the old infrastructure of the market. In the past, there was simply a lack of money for investments. There were always plans to modernize the facilities, but in the end nothing happened. Now, the situation has changed significantly. Over the next three years, around 100 million EUR will be invested in the construction of the new market. A completely new chapter will be opened – a challenging and exciting one. We need to make many important decisions and develop new future-oriented strategies. Ambitious and creative plans are already in the pipeline.”

We are ready to start a new chapter. Thanks to significant investments, old market structures will be modernized and innovative ideas realized. Cesare FerreroPresident

50 employees currrently work for SOGEMI; annual sales stand at 15 million EUR. In August 2016, Mr. Ferrero became the company’s President. “SOGEMI offers the most exciting business opportunities,” he states. “We are a public institution, and for this reason, we deal with specific conditions. Marketing activities, for instance, are limited. There are many promising ideas, but we are not in the position to realize all of them. However, we are ready for change and keen to give fresh impetus. Our goal is to modernize the market structure and to redevelop its surrounding areas so that it will be able to compete with the most advanced domestic and foreign markets. Milan is a highly attractive city, and we are eager to make the most of this asset.”

Milan’s market is famous for its huge range of high-quality products; however, there is a lot more to offer. “This market has enormous potential,” says Mr. Ferrero. “It could be the perfect location for cooking shows. Many chefs come and buy their products over here, so why not organize cooking events? We believe that this would capture the spirit of the times perfectly. Another idea is to establish new, extended opening hours. Again, we think this would be greatly appreciated. We will seize the vast potential of Milan’s wholesale market despite all difficulties. We are working on new facilities but also on a new image and mission. That is also the reason why we acquired Foody, the mascot of Expo 2015, which was created by Disney. Foody will play an important role in the company’s communication strategy. The food market is an exciting world that has so much to offer. We hope that Italian politicians eventually realize how important it is to invest in institutions such as this market. Markets will always play a crucial role for the supply of fresh food.”

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