Italy is the largest producer of chestnuts in Europe and its most advanced and chestnut-oriented regions are Tuscany, Calabria, Campania and Piedmont. This study, however, focuses on the chestnut supply chain in South Tyrol (Alto Adige/Südtirol), a northern 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 still keep the historically-rooted tradition alive. A detailed survey of the chestnut supply chain, involving interviews with 138 producers, 49 distributors and 272 consumers revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the local niche market. Moreover, separate analysis of four sub-regions revealed that significant production and marketing heterogeneity exists. In orchard management, as well as in purchasing and consumption habits, three different local characteristics were identified: (i) around Merano commercial chestnut production and direct sales; (ii) around Bressanone chestnut wood production; and (iii) in the Valle Isarco the use of "chestnut trails" as spare time activities. New regional development strategies will therefore have to take into account geographical disparities when introducing innovations into this traditional agricultural activity.
Keywords: Chestnuts, market, supply chain, South Tyrol
Jel Code: Q13