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Sicilia Bedda

Italy: 8,000 tons of canary yellow melons between July and December

"At a certain point, we understood that we could no longer sell only to local markets in Southern Italy like we used to. Therefore, we established a company, built a warehouse with processing and selection lines and we started contacting the main retailers, which control a big percentage of the fruit and vegetable market."

This is what the owners of Sicilia Bedda ss. report, a company established in 2011 by Franco Altamora and Tommaso Ciacco, two young entrepreneurs from Roccamena (Sicily), in the Belice valley. The area is perfect for Amarillo yellow and Tendral green melons - generally known as "Winter melons", as they could be stored until Christmas - thanks to its climate and soil conditions. 

Franco Altamore, on the left, and Tommaso Ciaccio, on the right.

Franco and Tommaso have always been cultivating and selling these melons. "We are convinced that the typical canary yellow melons from our area have particular organoleptic qualities and a long shelf-life, which enhance the product if suitable cultivars are used. In the past few years, for example, seed companies offered us new varieties that are really productive but with a flesh that has nothing to do with that of our local canary yellow melons."

Sicilia Bedda is located on 100 hectares which guarantee a 2,000 ton production. In addition, 6,000 tons are collected by other companies, for a total of around 8,000 tons of yellow melons coming from controlled production areas.

The 500 square metre warehouse in Roccamena is equipped with processing lines that can grade fruits according to the specific needs of clients. The produce is generally packed in 30x50 cm cardboard boxes with 4-5 and 6 fruits or in 60x40 cm cardboard boxes with 6 or 12 fruits. Sicilia Bedda has the GlobalGAP certification.

"Giorillo is the variety which best represents the characteristics of our typical melon, from both an aesthetic and flavour point of view. The melon is round, the rind is really wrinkled and golden yellow, inside though, it always guarantees the typical aroma of our local canary yellow melons with a small placental cavity and a great shelf-life. The product is not ruined even after 60 days, as it maintains its colour and compactness and the flesh is still tasty and firm."

"Once we identified the variety, we selected the areas and the producers that could produce melons naturally. Once the production is organised - which usually starts in mid-July and ends at the beginning of October - we can sell fruits until December, and Giorillo maintains its quality until then."

"Our melons travel on refrigerated trucks: 60% is shipped to domestic retailers, 30% goes to traditional markets and 10% to those in Northern Europe. We are also the suppliers of Chiquita Italia. Italian retailers prefer 1.5 and 2.2 kg fruits, in Central and Southern Italy grades reach 2-2.5 kg, whereas grades bigger than 2.5 kg are sold to traditional markets in Southern Italy."

"The sales trend this year is slightly lower than 2012, probably because of the economic crisis and of the new products arriving on the market which look similar but do not have the same quality. For this reason, this year our products have been labelled so consumers can identify them," conclude the owners.

Sicilia Bedda ss

Via Siracusa, 8
90040 Roccamena (PA)
Franco Altamore 
Cell.: (+39) 333 4506664
Tommaso Ciaccio
Cell.: (+39) 338 9968787

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