"The prickly pear campaign in San Cono is still underway with a good quality, higher prices than average and lively demand. The only issue is the lack of labor, which in turn means a few batches were not harvested when the high temperatures hastened ripening," reports Francesco Grassenio, President of OP Ficodindia di San Cono.
The PO gathers 34 members and 400 hectares of specialized crops and is the only Sicilian PO that is made up only of prickly pear producers. The evolution of this segment is a true resource for local agriculture as well as a business opportunity considering the increasing demand.
The company is located in San Cono (CT), the leading Sicilian prickly pear producer area for decades. Over the past five years, the introduction of new orchards has conquered significant market shares on both a domestic and international level. This year, the high quality and high volumes are due to the abundant rain in spring and the lack of strong precipitations in June and July.
PDO prickly pears from San Cono are large, with a weight that varies between 105 and 270 g.
The PO produces the following varieties:
Yellow or sulfarina (80% of the production): yellow-orange color, very sweet when ripe, tender succulent flesh.
Red or Sanguigna (15%): ripe fruits are ruby red with a sweet flavor and crumbly consistency as well as fewer seeds with respect to the other cultivars.
White or Muscaredda (5%): ripe fruits are white-ish, although they are usually mistaken for being under-ripe. It is the most prestigious variety thanks to its organoleptic qualities, texture and crunchiness.
Fruits are easy to eat, just like an orange or an apple, because spines are removed. The types of packaging available include 30x40 crates with cells containing between 12 and 20 fruits, trays with or without lids and much more.
Prickly pears are very popular especially in the southern parts of the world, although their goodness is now also known in northern Europe, where consumers have discovered their surprising flavor and properties. Prickly pears are in fact packed with energy yet with few calories as 80% is water with a high vitamin and mineral content.
"We focus on strengthening our commercial relations on the foreign markets. At the moment, our markets of reference are Germany, France, Spain, then Netherlands and Belgium through the big retail, retail and wholesale channels."