The Advent season is truly citrus time. All the important growing areas of Southern Europe are currently bringing their clementines and oranges to the market. Blood oranges are usually marketed very quickly around Christmas time. On Sicily, this year's harvest started this week. According to specialized wholesaler Lino Manduca, who has his headquarters in Albstadt, the harvest forecasts predict smaller yields than those of the year before, but the fruit quality is significantly better.
Left: Clementines, fresh from Italy
Right: Half-Blood Oranges from Sicily
"This week, the first blood oranges from the Etna district have arrived here in Albstadt," explains Manduca, who sources the fruit directly from well-established producers in Sicily. The wholesaler expects the sales to skyrocket in about ten days. "The first oranges are currently being sourced from Vittoria: the Navel ends in February, and then it continues with the Novelato, Brasiliano, Tarocco and Thoroughbred Moro. The campaign will normally end somewhere in mid-May." Although the new campaign is still only getting started, growers and traders are already anticipating a smaller harvest compared to the previous year. Manduca: "Although we have lower returns this year compared to the previous year, overall the quality should be better. Last year we had larger volumes, but the fruits were smaller."
Seedless Leaf Clementines
Italian leaf clementines are currently entering the German wholesale trade as well, however they do not come from the island of Sicily, but from the southern Italian region of Calabria. The current price situation and the demand is all in order, especially in regard to the seedless product that is arriving, says Manduca. "After the first varieties, we expect the first Tacle fruits, a cross between blood oranges and clementines, by the end of January. This is actually the best product of the season."
Also available for Christmas from Sicily: pomegranates and artichokes
Difficult price situation
Parallel to the start of the blood orange harvest, the first artichokes from Sicilian fields were already welcomed in the large warehouse in Albstadter, says Manduca. "The harvest of the Mama variety will be completed in the next two weeks. Producer prices for the new harvest are currently at around 0.30-0.35 cents apiece. That's not really enough if we compare that with the average price of about 0.50 euros. At Christmas, the price will perhaps rise a little, in parallel with higher sales volumes."
Owner Lino Manduca of wholesaler Italia Nature from Albstadt
Exotics from the island of Sicily
Apart from all this, the dedicated wholesaler points out that climate change will also lead to structural changes within the cultivation on Sicily. At the same time, this will also create new opportunities for the local producers. "Recently, for example, mangoes and lychees from Sicilian production are on sale as well. Also for about 3-4 years, pomegranates are grown commercially, which we currently are bringing into the Christmas assortment."