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Italian product still too much a niche product

'Artichoke market in Germany very limited'

Artichokes from Sicily are currently enjoying their peak season. This unique product with its colored head however is hardly found on the supermarket shelves, but rather in specialized delicatessens and restaurants. As a result, importers have great difficulty in selling the imported product. But people do not give up hope, as a conversation with the grower and major distributor Lino Manduca of the company Sole di Sicilia illustrates. “Artichokes are currently too unfamiliar to the consumer.”

The market situation in the artichoke sector is anything but optimal, at least for Italian varieties. Among other things, this has to do with the import from North Africa. There is a large supply of Egyptian and Moroccan artichokes on the market today. “Although they were not produced according to the European guidelines, they may still be marketed here. The Sicilian products are more expensive, but by far the best in terms of quality,” says Manduca.

Fresh artichokes from the island of Sicily

Today's assortment of specialized wholesale traders consists mainly of three varieties: the main variety Violetta is complemented by the Apollo and the so-called Opel variety. According to the dealer, the Apollo is significantly better than the other varieties. There are also baby artichokes, but you will find them especially in the last weeks of the season. The peak season of artichokes has started around Christmas and usually runs until the beginning of March, depending on the weather conditions in the Sicilian cultivation region.

Compared to last year, Sole di Sicilia produced vegetables only half of the total income. This has to do with the competition of North African products but above all with the lack of enthusiasm for the product in Europe. In Europe, the market for artichokes is very limited. Manduca: “The product is actually consumed in large quantities only in Italy and France. Here in Germany the product is mainly found in specialized delicatessen shops.” According to Manduca to has a clear reason: “Knowledge and advertising in the food retail sector are lacking. This applies not only to Germany but also to Eastern Europe: Romania, Russia, etc.”

Owner Lino Manduca deals with large-scale distribution of products

Since only a few importers are involved in the import of artichokes, the wholesalers should distribute the product in large quantities. Because of the limited demand, these are only sold by the box, and as a result, importers have to work hard to market their shipments. However, during his long career in the fruit and vegetable industry, the trader knows that the situation could change in the long run. He names Italian cherry tomatoes as an example: “30 years ago, the first brand -Naomi- came on the market; at the moment it is also a popular item.”

Diverse producer
Sole di Sicilia has been one of the most important production companies in Sicily since 1930. The family business is now run by the third generation and has its own plantations on the Italian island. The company supplies wholesalers and retailers throughout Europe with a variety of products, including tomatoes of all kinds, citrus fruits, cucumbers, courgettes, grapes, peaches and melons.

A delivery vehicle of the company

For more information:
Inh. Lino Manduca
Ludwig-Thoma-Strasse 9, 
72461 Albstadt, Deutschland

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