Italy: Organic limes from Sicily

"We are very sorry we cannot manage to sell in Sicily. It seems incredible that our lemons reach Norway and England every day but not Sicily! Only a small percentage of our production stays in Italy and is shipped exclusively to northern Italy, where organic lemons are more appreciated," explains Sergio Mazzara, partner of Campisi Italia.

Planting of the first lime tree three years ago. Left to right: Sergio and Marco Mazzara.

Campisi Italia is a family business specialising in the production and commercialisation of Limone di Siracusa IGP. It was among the first to implement organic cultivation techniques 20 years ago. Today, with its 250 hectares and 10,000 tons of produce, it is one of the leading organic lemon producers in Italy.

Sergio Mazzara and Verna lemon trees 

Approximately 85% of the production is exported, as the company is in direct contact with leading European distribution chains in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. In addition, it holds the Bio, Bio Suisse, GlobalGAP, BRC/IFS, Naturland, Grasp, Sa8000 and Smeta certifications.

Lime harvest

The company was founded by Sebastiano Campisi, a passionate grower and innovator. His deep relationship with the land started when he was 8 with a small plot of parsley and lasted until his passing. Today, the company is conducted by his grandsons Sergio and Marco Mazzara.

Sicilian lime "bunch"

"We have recently renewed the entire processing plant. It was a significant investment, albeit necessary to deal with Spanish competitors. I am in charge of commercial activities and Marco is in charge of production. I love the countryside and I often talk on the phone to clients directly from the groves."

Varietal innovation has also been carried out to meet the demands of an ever-evolving and demanding market.

"Our aim is to extend the production calendar as much as we can to meet market demand. This is why we planted the Spanish Fino (early) and Verna (late) varieties. Now the season should start in early September with Fino, continue with Femminello Siracusano mid-October and end with Verna from late April/early May and Verdello Siciliano in July and August."

The company would like to supply European retailers throughout the year with a fresh produce that does not have to endure a 3-4 week journey like that from overseas."

"Primofiore Siracusano is unique for its essential oil content and the qualities of its juice. Unfortunately it is only available between late October and May. And while it is true that bianchetti, maiolini and verdelli also exist, they only represent a small percentage of the total. When we visited Spain, we learned more about their varieties: Fino is much earlier than our Primofiore and Verna is available until July. So why not try them?"

"In a market such as this, innovation is key. We must thank our parents, who entrusted us with running the company years ago, enabling us to experiment and introduce new things. This is actually rather unusual, especially in the agricultural world where it is difficult for the younger generations to find their space."

New sorter at Campisi Italia

But innovation is at home here and it led to the planting of the first lime, avocado and pomegranate trees.

Limes seem to be growing particularly well in Syracuse. "We harvested 3-year-old groves for the first time and both the yields and quality were excellent. The market gave us very good feedback, as the colour and juiciness were much appreciated. The other groves will start producing over the next few years as well."

"We fancied something new. Both me and my brother have always loved limes. Supermarkets usually only stock the Brazilian or Mexican produce and, what is more, it is very difficult to find organic limes. This small test went very well and we are now investing on this citrus fruit."

"Of course lime cultivation is not very easy, as trees are very susceptible to the main citrus fruit fungal and bacterial diseases. In addition, ordinary management is rather expensive for what concerns both pruning and mechanical damage prevention."

But there is more news, as the company seems to be ready to work in another segment as well.

Finger lime grown in the Syracuse area, Sicily

"We are carrying out a small test on finger limes too. It is a niche product, but with enormous potential." 
Campisi Italia s.s. Soc. Agr
Via Sant'Elia, 24
96100 Siracusa (SR) - Italy
Tel.: +39 0931718155
Fax: +39 0931718000

Publication date: 10/2/2017

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