One of the most important challenges of the mountains of Central Italy (Apennines) is to maintain livestock production in areas, that otherwise are at risk of abandonment. The predominant grassland areas are only adapted to be grazed by ruminants and among these beef cattle plays an important role. In the year 2005 the "Vitellone Bianco dell'Appenino Centrrale (VBAC)" obtained recognition from the EU as Protected Geographical Indication. Three white skinned cattle breeds, Chianina, Marchigiana and Romagnola, compose this collective trademark. According to the study ISMEA-CRPA the market prices of the bulls and heifers of these three beef cattle breeds are about 30% higher than Charolais cattle, which cover the also 30% higher production costs. From these data it becomes clear. that this PGI is able to generate a significantly higher value added compared to the more conventional French cattle breeds.

One of the challenges to be faced in the supply chain of this PGI are the logistics related to the movement and sales of calves born on relatively small specialized suckler cow herds to be finished in specialised finisher farms. The Operational Group FILO (2019-2022) has the objective to improve the competitiveness of the PGI-VBAC supply chain by means of the definition of a new model of organizing the logistics able to better integrate the different stages of the chain from suckler cow farms down to the retailers. 

Two challenges had to be faced by this research innovation: 

  1. the continuity of beef cattle farms with local breeds in less favoured mountain areas
  2. the improvement of the competitiveness of the supply chain by the introduction of new model of logistic organization

The first challenge has been tackled by means of the institution of a PGI protecting the patrimony of three local cattle breeds raised in the montains of Central Italy. The second challenge has been faced by setting up the Operational Group FILO for the implementation of innovative practices in the field of logistics and organisation of the supply chains. 

The main benefit of the institution of the PGI has been the maintenance of a 30% market price differences between the three local white skinned breeds (Romagnola, Marchigiana and Chianina) and Charolais cattle. The benefits of the Operational Group FILO still have to be generated by implementing the proposed best practices. 

The PGI does not protect merely the three local cattle breeds, but includes a product specification that poses conditions to area of breeding, feeding diets, farm typology, meat maturing and meat characteristics such as colour, chemical and physical parameters.  

The fact, that not only the breed is protected, but a long series of conditions need to be met in order to be certified, is one of the key success factors of this PGI in contributing to the significant price differences with other cattle breeds and to maintain in this way beef cattle farming in less favoured areas.

The institution of the PGI label contributed to the maintenance of a significant price difference on the market. The implementation of the innovative practices in logistics between suckler cow and finisher farms will increase the economic efficiency of the supply chain

Literature sources:

  1. Operational Group FILO “FilieraVBAC IGP Innovazione Logistica e Organizzazione
  2. Costo di produzione dei vitelloni di razza autoctona in allevamento da ingrasso (ISMEA-CRPA)

Author : Kees de Roest - CRPA