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Italy: OP Armonia to import citrus fruit from southern hemisphere

Lemons from Argentina and oranges from South Africa to complete the Italian production season - this is what OP Armonia is focusing on this year. 

The reason is simple: guaranteed, continuous supplies to retailer clients. 

OP Armonia will start with 3,500 tons in 2017 thanks to a trusted import manager and a global logistic supplier that has already been selected.

PO sales manager Marco Eleuteri explains that "we will receive the first oranges and lemons during early June and then regularly every week until early September for lemons and a few weeks later for oranges." 

Marco Eleuteri in a citrus grove located at the foothills of the Cederberg mountains (Western Cape), where most of the oranges will come from. It's a very interesting area thanks to the quality of the fruit and because it's not affected by the black spot virus (CBS).  

"All our oranges - Navel and Valencia - will come from South Africa, while Eureka seedless lemons will come from both South Africa and Argentina."

"We should reach a volume of between 3,500 and 4,000 tons of lemons and oranges. 75% of the produce will come from South Africa, where we have reached agreements with three producers: oranges will come mostly from Western Cape, lemons will come from Eastern Cape and smaller quantities of Valencia oranges will come from the province of Limpopo, near Zimbabwe."

"We will become extremely competitive on the market, especially with the South African produce, which will arrive in Gioia Tauro, 240 km from our warehouse in Battipaglia. It is a very competitive port in terms of prices and, most of all, the one with the shorter transit time."

"Our Global Logistic Supplier Overseas will be the Tramaco company in Ravenna. We have chosen professionals to optimise all overseas logistics."

The start of the project
The idea of widening the citrus fruit assortment was developed after the purchase of the Battipaglia packaging warehouse. A large facility (6,000 covered sq m in a 20,000 sq m area) in a very good location.

"We package strawberries, stone fruit and citrus fruit and we will also be able to package the citrus fruit arriving in summer-autumn. Our workers specialise in citrus fruit processing, which will also set us apart from our competitors."

"We will be able to supply Italian retailers with very quick delivery times: AxA for the centre and south of the peninsula and AxB for the rest of the country."

Another reason why the import programme was developed was Marco Eleuteri's experience in citrus fruit imports. "It enabled us to organise procurement easily (certified producers, best production areas, planning and varietal calendar...) both in Argentina and South Africa. Our offer will be very competitive because it will combine efficient organisation, swift logistics and excellent know-how."

This year, OP Armonia is expecting to import between 1,500 and 2,000 pallets of oranges from the valley at the foothills of the Cederberg mountains (Western Cape), fully traced and grown by Siza-certified (Sustainability Initiative of South Africa) producers. "This programme is in line with our objective to place our produce among the highest ranges." 

A phenomenon to keep into consideration is the rise of lemon and easy-peeler groves in South Africa (in the photo, a 50 hectare grove of Nadorcott). This trend is worrying operators, as the increase should reach 150/200% in just a few years and might destabilise the market. Navel groves are decreasing, while Valencia groves are stable.

A factor which might favour South African citrus fruit exports, at least this year, is the weakness of the Rand.

The effects of drought

In the meantime, the South African citrus fruit campaign is about to start (some have already started with some lemons and a few satsumas). The dry hot weather caused a few hormonal dysfunctions such as open navels, leading to a percentage of waste between 15 (Western Cape) and 30% (Eastern Cape). 

Above and below: open navel on Navel oranges

This phenomenon should lead to a decrease in Navel orange exports compared to last year. Lemons and Valencia oranges (Delta and Midnight) should not be affected and volumes are actually expected to increase.

On a positive note, drought reduced the spreading of the CBS, which is absent or very limited in the Eastern Cape and northern production areas generally more susceptible to the fungus.

"A few days ago, I met a sales manager from a company that initially didn't even want to meet us but which will now probably be one of our leading partners in the southern hemisphere. He told me that they had never considered working with companies located south of Rome as they considered it too risky. But then he saw the website and saw that we are Price Waterhouse certified, which none of his other clients are, and had to reconsider. I believe southern Italy must learn how to communicate more abroad."

Marco Eleuteri - Sales manager
Email: marco.eleuteri@aoparmonia.it
OP Armonia
Via Strada Privata Frigotirrena, 1
84091 Battipaglia (SA)
Tel.: (+39) 0828 316273
Fax: (+39) 0828 316234
Email: info@aoparmonia.it
Web: www.aoparmonia.it

Publication date: 4/11/2017


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