Italy: The difficulties of growing blood oranges

"Exceptional oranges have always been harvested just a few km from Mount Etna. Real Sicilian blood oranges are cultivated here," explains Aurelio Pannitteri, who started working in the sector with his father Giuseppe and brother Salvatore. 

Left to right: Salvatore and Aurelio Pannitteri

Thanks to the skillful management of the Pannitteri brothers, OP Rosaria has become a point of reference for high-quality Sicilian citrus.
Nonetheless, despite the successes of the past few years, not all is well in the citrus fruit sector.

Extending the production period? Better not.
"While we can be considered leaders in seasonal production, we are finding it difficult to extend the season to late blonde oranges. Managing to achieve it would bring more work and increase the income of our producers."

"The difficulty is due to many factors. First of all, there is competition from overseas, as production costs in these countries are much lower than ours. Another element is the high taxes in Sicily, without mentioning the energy costs. Just think that 56% of the total amount is made up of taxes. If we add the fact that taxation in Italy is not among the lowest in Europe nor in the world, then it's easy to see what we have to deal with every day."

Above: processing of the prestigious Rosaria oranges

In addition to all this, let's not forget that Sicily is located in the periphery of the EU, meaning logistic costs are definitely higher.

"We are literally invaded by foreign produce due to a series of obstacles that make our job very complicated. What is more, some countries do not have the phytosanitary restrictions we apply to guarantee the health of our consumers and workers."

"Producing blonde oranges as well would mean safeguarding consumers by supplying Italian produce, thus countering unemployment at the same time."

Not a question of entrepreneurial skill
"Producers find it difficult to invest on these products because foreign fruit is available at a price that is below cost to us. We manage to remain on the market despite all the disadvantages only because our company is well structured. Excessive bureaucracy, taxation and questionable competition constitute real obstacles. The Irap at 4.82% alone is an issue."

OP Rosaria - Pannitteri & C. srl

S.P. 135 - C/da Belpasso - Catania
Tel.: (+39) 095 7913562/3
Fax: (+39) 095 7913564

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