“Despite some frost issues during the first days of the new year, 2019 has kicked off very positively for the Sicilian table tomato sector. The anti-frost plants and the technological greenhouses are now capable of mitigating the effects of the cold, even though, this time, the temperatures reached - 4/5°C in the southern part of the island too”.
That is according to Giuseppe Libretti, manager of a historical Italian horticultural brand located in Sicily. He also took care to explain why the prices are “in line with the seasonal trend”.
Taste as the attraction factor
Companies provided with a structure of their own can be competitive by investing in the best characteristics of their products. Libretti continued, “This year, we are in the process of marketing new exclusive varieties which boast an incredible taste. Research and development are essential elements in order to be up to date with innovations”.
“The organoleptic characteristics are extremely important: they are the key points on which the MMR focuses to satisfy the customers’ demand for excellent taste. This could be understood as a sort of comeback of what the Sicilian tomato represented in the 60s-70s”.
“In order to achieve the traditional taste again, we invested in the experimentation of new methods which involve the execution of natural techniques such as the soil sterilisation through sunlight, for instance. Our goal is to improve the healthiness of our produce”.
After 5 years, plant diseases are decreasing
The entrepreneur pointed out, “The tomato virosis is decreasing. In addition, companies firmly fought against the Tuta absoluta thus reducing it even to zero, in some cases. This was possible thanks to the steady effort and research of our agronomists, who developed really advanced experimental techniques”.
In the last 5 years, the Tuta absoluta has represented a very annoying problem to Sicilian productions. If the data provided by Libretti were confirmed on a larger scale, the entire sector would be able to look optimistically to the future”.
How is the Italian production performing if compared to the international competition
The manager claimed, “Competition is always present, of course. Egypt can be a very tough ‘opponent’ as it is focusing on the improvement of production standards, especially with regards to the horticultural sector. Therefore, the times when we could boast the best phytosanitary protocols are over now”.
“Thus, we must focus on the peculiarities of our territory. In that regard, we developed important programs with North European countries which choose us exactly because of the territorial characterisation of our produce. It is extremely crucial for our economy to be able to communicate our ‘Sicilianity’”.
Characterisation of the Made in Sicily product
Libretti concluded, “Because of all the aforesaid reasons, it is necessary to farm tomatoes directly in the fields, and not through soilless techniques. In this way, we can improve the uniqueness of our produce which is made of history, tradition and culture, all closely tied to our land as in no other place in the world. We need to take advantage of these factors in order to turn this incredible value of our produce into an effective market price”.