"The Primofiore lemon campaign started around 10 days ago with significantly lower volumes and smaller fruits compared to last year. Just think that, in Syracuse, grade 5 lemons are being harvested weighing approximately 90/100 grams. This is due to the warm weather that, up until a few weeks ago, kept plants in a constant state of blossoming thus hindering fruit growth," explained Giovanni Pezzino di Geronimo, sales director at Il Limone del Barone.
The company is located in Carlentini, in the Syracuse province, and covers 70 hectares of orange groves and mainly seedless Femminello Sfusato lemons.
Femminello - also known as Limone di Siracusa - is characterized by three seasonal production and ripening periods occurring between October and April (Primofiore), May and June (Bianchetto) and June and September (Verdello). The current campaign has seen extraordinary delayed blossoming that had not occurred for quite some time.
Limone del Barone is 100% natural: the peel is edible as it is untreated, so it is perfect to season food.
"I believe real high-quality lemons can be recognized by the peel. In fact, demand for our produce skyrocketed in late November when the news came out that batches of Spanish lemons on sale in Syracuse had been treated with Imazalil, a potentially carcinogenic fungicide. The fact that the label did not report the peel was inedible is even worse."
The brand currently commercializes grade 2/3 lemons at a price of €1.90-2.00/kg and with volumes below demand. Quotations are expected to increase towards the end of the commercial campaign.
Over the past few years, lemons have been increasingly popular with consumers interested in healthy eating, as they can be used to prepare dishes as well as beverages. They can also be squeezed in hot or cold soft drinks as well as used to prepare refreshing cocktails and mocktails.
A few months ago, the company inaugurated the new 900 sq m processing facility where citrus fruit is packaged in 6 kg wooden crates, 15 and 16 kg cardboard boxes and 1 kg girsac nets. What is more, the company is also looking to implement additional sustainable measures regarding natural productions, renewable resources and sustainable packaging.
"We will soon present our lemons in 1 kg nets. The objective is to retain those customers that no longer purchased nets as most suppliers used them for low-quality produce with a damaged peel and, most of all, obtained by delayed blossoming and therefore not very juicy. The challenge is to place prestigious seedless lemons in nets guaranteeing the same percentage of juice found in larger fruits," reports Andrea Pezzino di Geronimo.
The company holds the GlobalGAP and Grasp certifications and inaugurated the 2019 campaign with the fruits produced by the new groves currently in full production. 70% of the produce is exported, mainly to France.
"We are looking to export more and will promote our brand by taking part in international events. For example, we will attend Fruit Logistica in Berlin, the leading fresh produce fair in Europe."