Italy: People should only produce what they can sell

"We work with potatoes 12 months a year. Once the season of our main product - new potatoes - is over, we start commercialising potatoes from the Fucino area and from France. In autumn-winter, we sell them exclusively to Sicilian retailers and start introducing other vegetables in late October. As for northern Italy, we only commercialise leafed lemons from Syracuse in winter," explains Tonino Zito, sales manager for Soc. Agr. Zito & Co.

"The quality of Agata and Colomba potatoes from Fucino was rather good until August 20th. The Arizona variety should become available this week. But I must admit the French produce is much better and we are selling the Agata variety from the area south of Paris at a very low price. Even though the chains we supply do require domestic produce, the French one does better meet the quality standards required. We trade French potatoes exclusively from late November until the campaign of our new potatoes starts. We also sell onions from Fucino."

This year, the south of France was characterised by overproduction, "so the French have a lot of produce stored in units. The remaining quantities are sold at all kinds of prices."

"On a commercial level, sales are within the norm. Nothing exceptional although potato consumption has increased due to the very low prices. At the moment, in fact, consumers can purchase 2 kg of produce for €1.19 in supermarkets."

Production calendar
"We plant the following in early September to harvest in late October/mid November: fennel, celery, iceberg and Roman lettuce, green and white cauliflower. We like to have a good bargaining power with our clients and, the wider your range, the more supermarkets keep you into consideration."

"High-quality vegetables are currently selling at very high prices. Should there be a lack of winter produce, it wouldn't be all bad. Nowadays, you should only produce what you manage to sell but, in our area, many plant a lot without knowing who to sell to and end up placing everything on the market. They don't even cover crate costs!"

According to Tonino, 20% less land has been destined for the cultivation of vegetables while people turn to lemons instead. "Lemons have been doing well over the past few years and prices have skyrocketed."

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