In the photo: Maria Concetta Malgioglio and Federica Campisi, owners of Azienda Agricola Arancia Express.
"The main challenge today is promoting the domestic produce, as it often has to deal with competition from countries like Spain and Morocco. Labour is cheap over there and the legislation regarding chemicals and food security is often very different from that in the EC, in turn penalising Italian growers," explain Federica Campisi and Maria Concetta Malgioglio, owners of Azienda Agricola Arancia Express.
The company was established in 2012 in Catania and has grown to cover 10 hectares with around 5,000 trees of tarocco gallo oranges, lemons and tangerines.
"Our leading product is blood oranges, of the tarocco Gallo variety in particular. This year, the campaign has been difficult due to the weather and lack of rain. Of course this meant that grades are small, even though quality and flavour are both excellent."
"In addition, our territory has been hit by the Citrus Tristeza Virus over the past few years, so we had to invest in eradicating and replacing the old plants. We had to choose varieties that are more resistant compared with traditional cultivars such as tarocco TDV, Tarocco Gallo 2062, Tarocco Ippolito, Tarocco Sant'Alfio and Tarocco Lempso".
In the background, new citrus fruit groves that will start producing in 2019/20.
"Online sales are advantageous because they guarantee our customers produce that is fresh, as the fruit is harvested after receiving the order and shipped on the same day. Our produce is grown naturally without using harmful products and therefore the peel is edible."
According to the two entrepreneurs, another advantage is product traceability and the short chain, together with the fact that this system gives customers the chance to enjoy excellent products at a competitive price without intermediaries, wholesalers and dealers. "This means we can lower prices and ensure the shipment of freshly-harvested products within 48 hours of the order."
"The only limit is the lack of a direct contact with clients although we do everything we can to establish a relationship of trust with our buyers."
"The direct channel where we are always active is our "Arancia Express" Facebook page, where we publish posts and photos daily. The feedback is good and sales increase when we talk about Brix levels, aroma, sweetness, colour etc. This year, we want to invest in our business and expand the groves as well as, of course, reach new countries."