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Italy: 2018 lemon season looking good despite the delays

"Despite the difficulties caused by the winter frost and drought in summer and autumn, 2017 was rather good for Italian lemons thanks to an increase in consumption. This year seems to be good as well: production is looking well, even though the lack of rain in summer caused small grades and delayed harvesting of Primofiore lemons, which are juicy with a high essential oil content and therefore very much appreciated by retailers," explains Eliana Ruocco, product manager for LemonGroup.

Paola and Eliana Ruocco from LemonGroup at Fruit Logistica 2018.

"We managed to tackle the difficulties thanks to careful crop planning. We can guarantee high-quality fresh produce that undergoes no post-harvest treatments and therefore has an edible peel."

Lemonsud is the cooperative's historic brand for high-quality lemons available all-year round. Lemonsud lemons undergo no post-harvest chemical treatment making it possible to use the whole fruit - peel included - to make candied fruit, limoncello, cocktails or desserts. 

Just like for all Italian lemons, the harvesting of Limone IGP Costa d'Amalfi was also delayed. President Angelo Amato decided to postpone harvesting from 1st to 24th February, as the fruit still hasn't reached the weight, size and shape suitable to be commercialised under the PGI mark.

"The main reason is definitely the abnormal weather. The prolonged heatwave, lack of rain and multiple forest fires affected our crops. One of the effects is smaller grades - without water, lemons do not follow their natural ripening cycles leading to a loss in production. Organisations should make investments when it comes to irrigation to tackle the problems caused by climate change."

Limone Costa d'Amalfi IGP was promoted by LemonGroup at Fruit Logistica 2018. The fruit is also known as Sfusato Amalfitano and is famous all over the world. It has a deep aroma, oblong shape, medium-thick light-yellow peel, juicy slightly acidic flesh and few seeds. 
Markets and competition
"Our main sales channels are mainly domestic markets and retailers. Spain is the main competitor, with increasing volumes of Fino lemons over the past few years. Spain can meet any market demand: the gap left by the delayed Primofiore lemons was quickly filled by Spain. It is no news that Spanish lemons occupy a leading position on the domestic and international markets when it comes to quantities and prices."

LemonGroup is currently working to expand its Battipaglia facility. "We want to add two areas to process the fresh produce and are studying modern state-of-the-art equipment to produce and store pure and natural juice as well as essential oil suitable for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries and to make lemon spirits, jams and organic detergents."

Corporate philosiphy
"We believe high-quality products are essential for our health. Cedars and bergamot are precious for their beneficial properties, as they are rich in vitamins, fibres and mineral salts. Their popularity in stores is proof that people are more and more careful about preventing incorrect nutritional habits.

In Berlin, LemonGroup also showcased its bergamots. The citrus fruit has a yellow peel and is slightly smaller than grapefruit. It is cultivated in Calabria and has well-known beneficial properties. It has always been used by the Italian and French cosmetic industry but demand has recently increased in the fresh produce market. 

The increase in bergamot demand means more fruit must be produced. "Our cooperative has invested towards this, as last year we planted around 5 hectares of cedar and bergamot trees."

Eliana Ruocco - product manager
viale Danimarca - Zona Ind.
84091 Battipaglia (SA)

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