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Fruits - history, production, trade

Fruits - history, production, tradeFRUIT
The word fruit is commonly used to indicate different kind of edible fruits: actually, in this category you will find also pome fruits (pomaceous) for example, which are not truly definable as fruits and, on the other hand, others, such as tomatoes, are left out, basically because of the way they are used in our diets.
In botany, fruit is the result of the modification of the ovary after the fecundation of the plant.
From a biological point of view the fruit's purpose is to provide protection, nourishment and a mean to spread to the seed borne.
Because of the great number of shapes, dimensions, texture, ways of opening and anatomy of fruits, there are classifications of different and numerous kind of fruit.

Usually fruits are divided in fresh fruit, nuts and canned fruit.
Fresh fruits are usually the fleshy, acidic and sugary products of plants and include yellow and green fruits, sources of vitamin A and C. Fruit brings a quantity of energy that differs in different fruits, from 16kcal/100g of watermelon, to 72kcal/100 of tangerines, rich in fructose.

However, there are also fresh fruits that are very rich in calories, such as coconut, which provides 364 kcal for 100g and 35g of fat, the avocado, with 231 kcal and 23 g of fat per 100g, or chestnuts with 165 kcal and 25.3 g of starch.
Fresh fruit provides great quantity of water, helping the hydration also in people, who ignore or do not feel the sense of thirst. This way it helps to prevent also some potentially dangerous conditions, such as kidney fatigue and metabolic acidosis of the body. Furthermore, fresh fruit is really antioxidant, being therefore a real defence mechanism against cellular ageing, carcinogenesis and atherogenesis.

Fresh fruit provides a large quantity of soluble fibres.
Furthermore, fresh fruit contains a lot of minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium and copper.

Nuts include fruits such as hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, where the edible part is inside a hard and non-edible shell. Some people include in this category also dried fruis (dates, sultana, hazelnuts, pine nuts, almond, walnuts, figs), therefore this word is not used to indicate as much the botanical category, but rather the nourishing properties and the type of preservation.
It is a group of food which provides few water and a high energetic content as well as fats.
The edible part of nuts is the seed, that can be consumed fresh, dried or toasted.
Recently, nuts have acquired more importance in our diet, as it has been established that nuts should be a permanent element of human diet, and that we should consume nuts frequently even though moderately.
Nuts basically contain fatty acids of the omega6 family. There are also other nutritional components, but considering the small portions that are consumed daily because of the high calorie-content, about 500kcal per 100g, they do not effect significantly on the recommended portions.

A lot of fruit varieties can be consumed both fresh and dried and used as food or processed to produce jams, marmalades and compotes. Fresh fruit usually comes at the end of the meal, even though, rather than a health recommendation, it is more a common habit. Moreover, it is recommended to replace the afternoon snacks with fresh fruit.

A healthy and balanced diet should presume an important consumption of fruit and vegetables, to provide our body with completely necessary substances, such as vitamins, minerals and fibres.
It is suggested to consume at least 3-4 portions of fresh fruit daily, varying and possibly eating seasonal fruit produced locally.

Mediterranean countries traditionally consume more fruit than Northern countries: it has been observed that a rich consumption of fresh fruit reduces the arising of numerous diseases, because of its chemical composition.
In general fruit is composed of water for the 80-95%, and of carbohydrates for the 5-20%. The water content actually varies according to the fruit considered: it can vary from 20% in bananas to the 5% in melons, watermelons and strawberries. Other fruits have an average content of water around 10%.
Fruit contains also important mineral salts, proteins, few fats and a lot of fibres, and it is usually composed by around 2% of pectin and hemicellulose. The skin of fruit is the part that contains more fibres and vitamins, such as carotene, vitamin A, C and vitamins of the group B.

The consumption of fruit was widespread also in the past. It was served in different ways: fresh, dried or canned. The piles of berries and fruit discovered in several archaeological sites are the proof that since ancient times different kind of fruit was harvested and consumed, even as a provision for the production of fermented drinks: about that, we can mention the cranberry wine in a container made of birch bark found in a grave of the Bronze Age in Denmark.

Starting from the Third Century b.C, during the Copper Age, there were also grapes , cherries, sloes, plums and chestnuts. In this epoch, many kind of grains and legumes were cultivated, and also olive trees, vines and figs, together with other fruit trees were already cultivated and widespread. Their diet was also composed of nuts, such as pistachios and almonds, which were part of the trees cultivated in the late Bronze Age "gardens". Grapes and vines, were mainly exploited for the production of wine, which however was an elitist drink.
In the Middle Ages, as sugar and honey were particularly expensive, people used to add fruit to many courses, to sweeten them someway: lemons, citrons, bitter oranges (as the sweet variety was discovered centuries later), pomegranates, quinces and grapes were mainly consumed in Southern Europe.
Instead, in the North other varieties of fresh fruit were widespread, such as apples, pears, plums and strawberries.
Figs and dates were eaten all over Europe, but in the North they were expensive imported products.

Fruit has acquired more and more importance worldwide: nowadays there are a lot of companies that produce fruit, certified companies for the production of fruit, producers of fruit, companies that produce organic fruit, companies that deal with the trade of fruit (packaging of fruit), retailers of fruit, importers of fruit, exporters of fruit and wholesalers of fruit.

 

CATEGORIES OF FRUIT
Fruit was divided, apart from the distinction made above (fresh fruit, nuts, canned fruit), also according to the parameter of the edible flesh.
Therefore, there is another diversification, between fleshy fruit (among which we can find pears, apples, peaches, citrus fruit, strawberries), floury fruit (such as chestnuts) and oily fresh fruit (such as walnuts, but also green olives).
From a nutritive point of view these categories of fruit differ a lot for their calorie content: in fact, in fleshy fruit it is of about 11 kcal per 100g of product, while in floury fruit, for example, the calorie content is higher than in fresh fruit of about 40%.
Oily fresh fruit, unlike the other two categories, has also a high content of fats, which weighs considerably on the calorie count that provides to the body: it is therefore suggested not to consume too many quantities of this fruit.
Fruit is fundamental for a better functioning of the body, as it provides vitamins, mineral salts and cellulose, which facilitates the intestinal functions. Chestnuts and nuts are however an exception, as they are rich in proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
In fruit, there are always vitamins, even though in more or less significant quantities; mineral salts, for example are more copious in fruit, and among them there is above all a high content of potassium, which prevails on calcium, sodium and magnesium contained in fruit.
In particular, fruit which contains potassium, guarantees a correct diet for those who love to eat in a healthy way: you can find potassium above all in some kind of fruit, such as apricots and bananas, (400 mg per 100 g), and in pineapples, which contain also a lot of manganese.
Some kind of fruit, such as citrus fruit, contains organic acids (citric, tartaric, malic, oxalic, etc.) which give to fruit the particular acidic taste: it is suggested to consume large quantities of this kind of fruit because it is easily oxidised by our body and has not an acidifying action, but rather alkalizing, contributing therefore in fighting the formation of acids created by food and in helping their elimination.

Moreover, fruit contains a lot of cellulose that has a beneficial effect in stimulating the intestine.
Apart from being refreshing in very hot climatic areas, where it is more likely to contract intestinal and urinary infections, fruit provides all the mineral salts that are dispersed through perspiration. Some tropical fruit provides also a high calorie and protein count, being therefore a complete food.
A lot of this fruit, known as exotic fruit, such as pawpaw, avocado, pineapples, contains an enzyme similar to pepsin, which is able to help digestion of proteins: by now they are already widely spread also in Italy.
The avocado above all is an almost complete food, rich in fats and vitamin A, that increases the acidity of urines, fighting urinary infections; the banana is also very nutritive, rich in mineral salts and vitamins and with few fats, even though, being very rich in sugars, is not suggested to diabetics and obese persons.

Science provides new data on fruit that is good to remember, however it is also interesting and extremely efficient not to forget the old tricks of our grannies, who cured a lot of problems, exactly by using fruit and not medicines: apples, for examples, are known to be a detoxifying fruit (as glucuronic acid contained in apples combines with heavy metals). If grated, they have been suggested since always to children with intestinal problems and can help also those who have constipation problems, thanks to a high count of pectins that stimulate the most delicate intestines, especially in summer.
Fruit is also important for its high content of vitamins: in fact, the lacking of vitamin supply to our body can cause damages to our health, arriving to avitaminosis, caused by a monotonous diet, free of vitamins, and therefore of fruit and vegetables.

It is important and suggested to consume fresh fruit, harvesting it, if possible directly from the plant or buying it from people who have already harvested it, despite the fact that fruit can be frozen and consumed months later, out of its season of production.
It is important to specify that, if consumed excessively, fruit can be also dangerous, causing tooth decay, periodontitis, intestinal swelling, hypertrophy and tonsils inflammation.
However, if eaten in the morning or in the afternoon, avoiding to eat it with other food, there will certainly be many advantages and benefits for our body.

Fruit can really be consumed in thousand ways, as fresh fruit, as shakes, in syrup, peeled or not, as jams or alcoholic drinks.
It is wrong to eat fruit alone at the end of the meal: it is better to use fruit for the preparation of other meals or in a tasty fruit granola.
Fruit is particularly used in bakeries and in preparing sauces.
Furthermore, fruit is particularly good consumed as juices obtained by fresh fruit, as all the mineral salts and the vitamins in it contained are preserved: for example, apricot juice contains vitamins and minerals and is recommended during convalescence, pineapple and pawpaw have diuretic qualities, while orange, tangerine, grapefruit and lemon juice are particularly rich in vitamin C, useful for the correct functioning of liver and gall-bladder.
Cherry juice is detoxifying and diuretic, while strawberry juice helps eliminating uric acid and dissolving kidney stones.
Instead, cranberry juice cures intestinal infections, such as enteritis, colitis and diarrhea, while plum juice is laxative and detoxifying and moreover stimulates the nerve system and is particularly recommended in case of weariness.

Every season has its own early produce, and this allows us to taste every fruit and every variety when really fresh: starting from January-February, we can find on our table fresh oranges, clementines, mandarins, tangerines and grapefruit. In March there are lemons, while in April and May with Spring we have strawberries, cherries, medlars, apricots, loquats, figs, raspberries, blueberries, nectarines, plums, currant, gooseberry, etc. The hottest months provide varieties of fruit with high content of water and vitamins, while starting from September, we can taste pomegranates and prickly pears, and finally in October, November and December, there are persimmons, chestnuts, pere, apples, grapes and kiwifruit.

PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF FRUIT IN THE WORLD
According to ANSA data of 2011, the production of fruit in the world increased in the last years more than 25%, going from 477 million tons of the first years of the twenty-first century to 600 million tons of today; Europe produces the 13% of the world production of fruit.
Italy, which is first in Europe, with 2% of the world fruit production (25% of the European total) ranks six in the world fruit production, with 34.2 million tons produced, after important producers, such as China, India, USA, Brazil and Turkey.
The number of families, who buy fruit and vegetables, both fresh or frozen, is always growing, despite the drop in the average quantities bought by each family unit. The average consumption of fruit and vegetables of each family is usually around 386g a day (data from ANSA).
World fresh fruit, after coarse-grained products and drinks, is the main agro industrial product exported from Italy: in fact, this country together with countries such as Germany, France, United Kingdom and Spain, represents the most important market for the s of sale of fruit inside the European Union.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been trying since years to monitor data on food consumption: according to FAO data, the consumption of vegetables (excluding potatoes and legumes), and in particular the consumption of fruit, increased in Europe in the last four decades, with a prevalence in the consumption of fruit in the South of Europe compared to the North.
Nowadays, the major world importer of fruit is Russia, even though this figure is not to be considered as absolute, as it is necessary to value the consumption of each different species of fruit.

Among the major world exporters of fruit there are China and many countries of the European Union, such as Italy and Spain.


FRUITS AND THEIR COLOUR
Apart from all the different categories of fruit described above, companies that produce fruit usually and always more divide it in 5 different typologies, according to the fruit colour: red fruit, green fruit, white fruit, yellow fruit and violet fruit. Each of these type of fruit is characterized by specific benefits caused to the body.
Let's analyse them one by one:

RED FRUIT
Red fruit includes watermelon, strawberries, cherries and red oranges, pomegranates, currant, raspberries and black cherries, as well as tomatoes, that are actually a real fruit, even though they are commonly considered vegetables.
Red fruit has a low calorie count, very few proteins and a very high therapeutic value, despite some kind of red fruit have an acidic taste: this is caused by the presence of many organic acids.
Some kind of red fruit are rich in anthocyanins, carotenoids and lycopene that are able to fight against breast and ovary cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Moreover, they are a heap of polyphenols, natural substances that can protect our body against free radicals, that is the waste molecules that are considered the major responsible for the early ageing of cells. Red fruit is different from other typologies of fruit also for its antioxidant properties and the capacity to prevent cancers, cardiovascular pathologies, and for the capacity to protect the epithelial tissue.
A regular consumption of this fruit is great to cure blood vessels pathologies and vessel fragility, preventing arteriosclerosis caused by high level of cholesterol.
It is suggested to consume some kind of red fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries and currant after the meal as they are able to reduce the quick increase of fats and to keep under control glycaemia in blood.

YELLOW FRUIT
The yellow colour of this category of fruit is due to the presence of beta-carotene and flavonoid, antioxidants that as well as keeping healthy our cells, help also the vision, the skin and the immune system.
Many fruits included in this category are rich in vitamin C. Among yellow fruit there are oranges, apricots, pineapples, tangerines, apples, peaches, mangos, pawpaw, yellow plums, lemons and melons.
As well as protecting the body, it is rich in beta-carotene that has a pro-vitamin effect and is and antioxidant precursor of vitamin A, fundamental for the growth and the preserving of tissues and immune defences.
Eating a lot of yellow fruit helps preserving tan and they are real beauty cures for the skin. Furthermore they help in preserving the health of bones and joints.

WHITE FRUIT
White fruit, such as apples, pears, bananas and coconuts are usually linked to the reduction of strokes risk, thanks to the fact that they are rich in substances such as sulphur. White fruit is also known for the fact that it reduces cholesterol in blood regulating the curdling processes.
Other important substances in white fruit are potassium, vitamin C and selenium: they help in strengthening bones, the cardiovascular system, to fluidify blood and reduce level of cholesterol.
It is interesting knowing that in apples there is a concentrate of many bio-active molecules full of bio-flavonoids (quercetin) that have anti-cancer and cardio-protective properties.

GREEN FRUIT
Among green fruit there are grapes, kiwi-fruit and limes.
The colour of this category is mainly due to the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll: it is an important antioxidant, together with carotenoids, that help in defending our body and preventing coronary pathologies and many kind of cancers.
Green fruit is particularly rich in magnesium, a very important mineral that helps the metabolism of carbohydrates and of proteins, stimulates the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, regulates the pressure in blood vessels and transmits the nerve impulses.
Some kind of green fruit, such as the kiwi-fruit, contain a particular substance, called lutein, that together with zeaxanthin, help in preserving eyes health.
Finally, a lot of green fruits are rich in vitamin C, which stimulates the absorption of iron and helps in preventing cardiovascular and neurological diseases and cancers.

VIOLET FRUIT
All violet fruit, such as currant, blueberries, wild plums, grapes and raspberries, is really rich in polyphenols, a very strong natural antioxidant that is able to reduce cardiovascular risks, to prevent the ageing and to fight neurological diseases, such as AD and PD, blocking the production of toxins that damage our brain and other organs.
Blue-violet food, as well as protecting our vision and preventing cancers and cardiovascular pathologies, helps a correct urinary function. Furthermore, anthocyanins, always present in violet fruit, have an important antioxidant action and protect the body against pathologies caused by a bad circulation of blood, protecting capillaries.
Violet fruit prevents also atherosclerosis, a disease caused by high levels of cholesterol, and inhibits the aggregation of platelets. This category of fruit contains also a lot of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and a lot of soluble fibres.
Some specific fruit, such as currant and radicchio, help the formation of carnitine and collagen, and are therefore excellent allies in the regeneration of human body skin.


PRODUCERS, FARMS, IMPORT/EXPORT OF FRUIT
Nowadays there are many fruit and vegetable companies and agricultural entrepreneurs, working in the sector of fruit, fresh fruit, seasonal fruit, fresh vegetables and of products derived from the the processing of fruits.
In particular, as mentioned above, the processing of fruit, the trade of fruit, the production of fruit and the sale of fruit are more and more profitable activities for the fruit and vegetable sector: there are certified fruit and vegetable companies for the production of fruit and other fruit and vegetable products, that try to keep the best requirements for the cultivation of fruit, in order to obtain the very strict European certification.

Thanks to our yearbooks FruitNEWSLETTER and MEC Ortofrutticolo (and their digital versions) you can easily contact fruit and vegetable companies and obtain information about them.
In particular you can find a list of companies that:
produce fruit (certified companies for fruit, companies that produce specific fruit, fruit and vegetable companies, companies that produce organic fruit)
deal with the trade of fruit, such as retailers of fruit, wholesalers of fruit, import/export of fruit (importers of fruit and exporters of fruit) and operators of the wholesale of fruit

Today, we give you the opportunity to access zipmec.eu, the biggest search engine for fruit and vegetable companies all over the world, where you can obtain information on:

  • companies that produce fruit
  • certified companies for the production of fruit (certified companies for the production of fruit with the P.G.I. indication and certified companies for the production of fruit with the "Indicazione geografica tipica)
  • producers of fruit
  • companies that produce organic fruit
  • companies that deal with the trade of fruit (packaging of fruit and vegetable products )
  • retailers of fruit
  • wholesalers of fruit
  • importers of fruit
  • exporters of fruit
  • operators that deal with the wholesale of fruit

 

Easily accessible and always up-to date.

It is a list of companies for the production of fruit, retailing of fruit, selling of fruit, import/export of fruit, wholesale of fruit, and in general of any company present on the fruit and vegetable market that is interested in the production and trade of fruit.
Apart from companies involved in the European fruit and vegetable sector, of course you can find also lists and information on any company of the world fruit and vegetable market.

MEC Ortofrutticolo describes many varieties of fruit: for each specific variety, it indicates the morphological and agronomic characteristics, with a picture of the product.

For each variety of fruit MEC Ortofrutticolo shows a list of companies that deal with that specific variety, such as producers of fruit, retailers of fruit, wholesalers of fruit, importers of fruit and exporters of fruit, specifying for each fruit and vegetable company its address and any website to contact the producer and the retailer of fruit and organic fruit directly.