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From Bejo's Carrot magazine

Year-round Italian carrots for the whole of Europe

In Italy, carrots are grown from the north to the south. Organic farming, as well as growing the coloured varieties, is gradually increasing. The industry is interested in new uses for carrots, such as carrot juice, which is considered to be a superfood, and carrot flour. Italian fresh market carrots make their way across the whole of Europe.

Carrot farming has spread worldwide. Currently, Asia is, with 60%, the largest producer in the world. Twenty-three percent of production takes place in Europe. Here, Poland is in first place with 16.5% of the total production, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and France. Carrot cultivation, with an acreage of 7 000 ha, has remained stable in Italy for a couple of years now. This vegetable is grown in several areas. In the north, there is Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. In central Italy, Central Abruzzo and Lazio are the most important cultivation areas, and in the south, these are Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. Together these areas are responsible for 80% of the Italian supply. The sandy soil found in these areas make them highly suited for growing carrots.

Italian carrot cultivation areas

Sowing period
The sowing period differs between the regions. In Veneto (the Chioggia region) and Emilia-Romagna (Ferrara region), the sowing period varies from November to January, and from May to July. Harvesting time is, respectively, from May to June, and from October to December (until March in Veneto). In Lazio, in the Fiumicino region, carrot seeds are mainly sown from July to August in order to be harvested between November and January, and April and June. Meanwhile, in the Latina region, also in Lazio, there are about 300 hectares of greenhouse and open field carrots. These are harvested from October to March. The production in this region is mostly destined for export to Northern Europe. 

The primary cultivation area in Abruzzo the Piana del Fucino region. There, sowing is done in March and April for harvesting from June to November. Carrot farming has a long history in this region. Here, cultivation is supported by the IGP (Indication Géografique Protégée) "Carota dell Altopiano del Fucino" quality mark. This mark of quality guarantees locally-produced high-quality product. In Puglia, Campobasso and Foggia, December and January, and July and August are sowing periods and harvesting is done, respectively, between May and July, and November and January. On Sicily, in the Ragusa province is the most popular region for carrot farming. There these vegetable seeds are sown from September to the beginning of November, in order for the carrots to be harvested between February and May. On Sardinia, sowing is done all year round, but a lot of carrots seeds are sown in the autumn and winter months. These are then harvested from October to July.

In Italy, the Nantes variety is most often marketed as winter or washed carrots.

Year-round supply
Carrots are transported all over Italy. Distributing this vegetable from the north of the country to the south, over distances of more than 1 000 km, ensures that carrots are available year-round. In this way, it is not necessary to store this fresh product for long periods of time. Their use determines which carrots the Italian farmers grow. 

The Nantes variety (orange and coloured) are the most common and can be found in almost all the regions. These carrots are mostly brought to the fresh produce market as winter or washed carrots. The Berlikumer and Flakkee varieties (orange and purple) are mainly grown in central Italy (Abruzzo and Lazio). These varieties usually end up as juice, carrot flour and frozen carrots. The Imperator variety, grown primarily in central and northern Italy are mostly used for 'ready-to-eat' snacks.

Organic farming
There is a growing interest in coloured (purple, yellow and white) carrots at the moment. These varieties are particularly popular in the organic market. Organic carrots are primarily intended for the fresh produce market. The market for these carrots is increasing year-on-year. Currently, 650 ha are being used in Italy for organic carrot farming. A total of 2 600 tonnes is produced, and these organic vegetables are available year-round. The most important export countries for organic carrots are Germany, England, the Benelux and the rest of the Northern European countries. The most important players in the organic market are based in Sicily. Baby carrots from this region are well-liked on the European market.

New uses
Another important trend on the marker is 'ready-to-eat' snacks. These are made up of orange, or a mix of different coloured, carrots. This product is becoming increasingly popular in supermarkets. Fresh juice, made from orange or purple carrots, is also gaining popularity. It is considered to be a 'superfood' because of its vitamin and anti-oxide content. Some Italian carrot-processing centres, found in the most important cultivation areas, have been in business for more than 50 years. These companies have proposed that a carrot catalogue be put together. Therein the various uses for carrots, such as juice, dried ground-up carrots, carrot flour and frozen processed carrots can be summarised.

Colle d'oro, based in Ragusa, Sicily, is one of the oldest carrot-processing companies in Italy. This centre supplies the fresh market with conventionally, as well as organically-grown, carrots. These carrots all bear the "Carota novella di Ispica" IGP quality seal of approval. They are established in an area that has a long history in carrots. The early production and the high quality of colour, taste and sweetness make that these carrots are well-received in the market.

Source: Bejo Carrot magazine

For more information:
Bejo Zaden
1 Trambaan
1749 CZ Warmenhuizen
T +31 (0) 226 396 162
F + 31 (0) 226 393 504

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