Auterfruit's response to the crisis in the citrus fruit sector
"Our produce is worth its weight in gold but, due to a series of circumstances, we don't seem able to push it. Mainly due to the fact that commercial management its distancing itself from good traditional cultivation practices."
Gaetano Auteri, owner of Auterfruit, with his brother and commercial manager Giancarlo Auteri.
"We should go back to taking advantage of the experience we inherited from those who used to cultivate this land before us so as to increase our profit margins regardless of the commercial logic that is currently bringing the Sicilian citrus fruit sector to its knees," explains Giancarlo Auteri
sales manager for Auterfruit.
"It's no news that a third of the trees producing blood oranges has been hit by CTV and that we have been experiencing weather problems, not to talk about the failure of regional agricultural policies, the lack of programming and sector disintegration. But it's not just that. Us producers are responsible for a lot, as we tend to sell out our productions just to be on the market."
"We own 6 hectares where we produce Tarocco Gallo, a variety with good productivity and grades, much appreciated by consumers and that develops a good colour already during early ripening. It would be perfect! However, things are not going as they should due to a series of factors. First of all, the commercialisation calendar should be longer, while it currently only lasts three months with a lot of produce sold at prices that do not follow the natural demand/supply logic."
"We try to limit the damage but still aren't able to do our production justice. Do we really think it is profitable or even dignified to sell out our produce at just a few cents per kg? We won't accept it. Of course we're only a small company, but we want to safeguard our fruit.
Oranges could be available between October and late May, especially considering how long the ripe fruit keeps on trees. Currently, however, large companies want to sell it all between December and February leading to a lower market share."
"This year, we're risking finishing all the produce in just a few months in a way in which producers are the the only losers, for the fruit is sold at prices that shouldn't even exist and paid 90 days after the invoice is issued. The reality is that we're part of a system that forces this situation on us, while things used to be different in the past. Tarocco Gallo is a prestigious Tarocco variety with a high productivity. In our 330 sq m facility, we process the fruit traditionally like our fathers used to do. This way, oranges have a 10-12 day shelf-life."
"We commercialise our produce in Italy, especially in Milan and all over Lombardy. We also sell it online, which is actually strategic as it now represents 50% of our turnover. It's a great opportunity, as it puts producers and clients in direct contact while guaranteeing traceability and a fair price."
"I would like to end by saying that, if we still manage to be available on the market, it's because our clients guarantee dignified prices. We would prefer not to harvest oranges and avoid prices that are too low."
Azienda Agricola Auterfruit di Auteri Gaetano
Via Cesare Battisti, 32 Palagonia (CT)
Cell.: 347 726 3612
Publication date: 3/7/2018
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