Giovanni Scavo, sales manager for Il Girasole Soc. Coop.
"We have added four new Unitec processing lines as well as a smaller one dedicated to organic produce," explains Giovanni Scavol, sales manager for Girasole Soc. Coop.
What is more, this expansion phase was characterised by the introduction of new partners - three companies with 80 hectares in total in PGI areas owned by the Ventura, Balsamo and Gerovese families.
The citrus fruit season started well for the cooperative despite the difficulties caused by the weather and prolonged summer drought. Temperatures continue to exceed 20°C and therefore irrigation must be carried out to alleviate plant suffering and guarantee excellent-quality produce.
Unfortunately, water supply is made harder by the fact that infrastructures haven't been looked after in years and by the inefficiency of the Consorzi di bonifica
"Quantities are good although the high summer temperatures and drought meant there is a lot of fruit below 60mm (around 40% of the total). Still, quality remains excellent. This drop in grades is however having repercussions on commercialisation for what concerns both fresh consumption and the processing industry."
The company, which is part of Consorzio di tutela Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP, currently produces large quantities of citrus fruit on around 300 hectares fully respecting environmental sustainability. Il Girasole uses in fact a renewable energy system which means it is entirely self-sufficient for what concerns the storage and processing cycle. It is one of the first businesses to employ low-environmental impact energy, thus reducing pollution to a minimum.
The main varieties are Navel, Tarocco, Moro, Sanguinello, Nova clementines and late tangerines from Ciaculli, apricots, peaches and nectarines. "We are working to promote the brand by attending leading sector fairs and investing in communication. At the moment, 95% of the produce is sold on the Italian market, although there seem to be new opportunities in Germany. We hold all the main certifications (GlobalGAP, IFS) to work on the foreign market."
The produce is packaged in the classic personalised cartons available in various weight and measurements as well as in girsacs, vertbags, Ifco or CPR crates suitable for supermarkets. The main distribution channels are wholesale markets and retailers (60 and 40% respectively).