Sustainable Development Options for the Chestnut Supply Chain in South Tyrol, Italy
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Italy is the largest producer of table chestnuts in Europe. This study focuses on the chestnut supply chain in South Tyrol (Alto Adige/Südtirol), a northern Italian province where chestnuts are currently of minor importance in relation to other crops such as apples and grapes. Nevertheless, a small number of chestnut farmers keep a historically rooted tradition alive. A detailed survey of the chestnut supply chain, involving interviews of 138 producers, 49 distributors and 272 consumers revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the local niche market. Moreover, it appeared that a significant production and marketing heterogeneity exists when analysing four sub-regions separately. Three different characteristics, regarding orchard management as well as purchasing and consumption habits, could be identified: (i) commercial chestnut production and direct sales around Merano; (ii) chestnut wood production around Bressanone; and (iii) the use of chestnut trails as spare time activities around Chiusa. New regional development strategies will therefore have to take into account the geographical disparities when trying to innovate a traditional agricultural activity.