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Saved by social mediaBetween the late 1800s and the early 1900s, a natural mutation of Sanguinello blood oranges was noticed in the territory near Francofonte, Sicily. The variety was called Tarocco, and has since become a favourite thanks to its flavour and sweetness as well as for its organoleptic qualities.
From Francofonte, the heart of these PGI oranges, the variety was spread all over the Catania plain.
"My company covers around 12 hectares and can be considered a family business, as our family has been cultivating citrus fruit for generations," explains Danilo Magnano.
"I manage the company with my brother-in-law, biologist and IT expert Davide Mudicante. We have completely revolutionised the business since 2004. A slow yet constant progress based on production innovation and varietal reconversion. We did it because we believe in a better eco-sustainable future for our children. Our products are organic and hold the Bioagricert certification."
Azienda Agricola Biologica Magnano is located in the Francofonte municipality. Harvesting is carried out between early November and late April, with a seasonal production estimated at 600 tons.
"We grow the Navel, Tarocco Igp, Moro Igp and Lane Late orange varieties as well as pink grapefruit, Nova and seedless Mandalate clementines, lemons and even bitter and Vaniglia oranges. Until recently, our produce was commercialised through a cooperative in Cesena, however we didn't make enough money to cover management costs."
"We were at the mercy of elements beyond our control. That's why I decided not to work with the cooperative any more and to start and alternative project. Seven years ago, with the help of Davide, who created the website and is in charge with all agronomic aspects, we started selling our produce through an online platform."
Our customers increased by 30-40% every year and, thanks to social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, our produce gained popularity.
"Our customers are mostly families, purchasing groups and small shops focusing on high-quality and organic produce. 90% of the fruit is sold on the domestic market, even though we have been receiving orders from Belgium, England, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, France, Czech Republic and Poland."
"Our fruit is harvested, sorted and placed in 9 or 16 kg crates. It does not undergo the stress typical of traditional processing lines so, even though it is not treated with anti-mould products or wax, it can last for up to 30 days."
First-category produce is sold directly to final consumers, while second-category produce is shipped to an organic business that makes marmalade.
This second aspect enables the company to provide an added value to its products, which the juice and derived product industry cannot guarantee. Added value turns into a bigger turnover, meaning the company can cover production costs.
"The 2016/17 campaign was positive despite the 40% drop in production compared to last year. We managed to maintain the same prices. The drop in production was caused by the high temperatures in early autumn, which prevented setting. Then came the rain and a rather cold winter, which caused problems such as rot and drops, compromising the Moro and Nova varieties in particular."
"We are now working to convey a renewed value and dignity to a product with unique organoleptic qualities. We want to sell fruit that tastes good but is also pesticide and chemical-free."
"I invite consumers to be more careful and demand more transparency from both websites and traders. For example, saying that the peel is edible without having carried out checks can deceive customers."
"We are very thorough and our commitment is repaid every day. Hearing something like 'I've never tasted a better orange' is priceless."
Azienda Agricola Biologica Magnano
Via Nastro Azzurro, 6
96015 Francofonte (SR)
Cell.: 389 9844848
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