The Sicilian orange campaign is in full swing and it is being affected in terms of quality and volumes by both the weather and factors that characterize the single plots.
"There is an overall drop in volumes, although not in my case. This is due to production alternation and, in fact, the 2018/19 campaign was a disaster! It had never happened that the production of late Ciaculli tangerines dropped to zero before," reports Rino Ossino, owner of Arancissima.
The traditional orange, tangerine and lemon 'gardens' are located at the foothills of Mount Etna. Lentini is the citrus city par excellence due to its history, tradition and propensity. Here, the Ossino family has been growing a wide selection of citrus fruit for generations.
The land is located within the blood orange production area - a circumscribed area where the high temperature range between night and day is perfect to grow pigmented oranges.
"We are currently cultivating Tarocco Gallo, Tarocco Comune, Moro, Nova clementines and late Ciaculli tangerines in our 7 hectares. Compared to last year, grades are medium-high also because October was rather rainy. The real problem was represented by the high temperatures in winter and the narrow temperature range slowed down pigmentation and ripening. In addition to stressing the plants, climatic factors also affect the phenological phases."
Rino also talks about his experience with e-commerce. "Due to the loss of considerable market shares, I chose to start selling directly to consumers. Arancissima has therefore become a sort of shop that can be reached in just a few clicks where we manage to sell the produce at 50% more than in the past. Our turnover has grown hand in hand with the number of our consumers, who are looking for fruit that is genuine, tastes good and is 100% edible."
The company is currently adopting organic cultivation techniques, therefore the fruit is grown in a natural way and harvested when perfectly ripe without undergoing chemical or cold storage treatments and shipped on the same day. Oranges are placed in recyclable cardboard crates and reach their destination within 48 hours.
Direct sales are a point of strength for the brand as they guarantee the traceability, high-quality, genuineness and freshness of the produce.
"Despite the lack of small grades, quality is excellent and Brix levels are high. Luckily groves were not affected by the Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV).
"I believe our priority is to protect the domestic produce from the threats of our competitors, thus guaranteeing the growth of our domestic economy. The fact that online shopping is easy to use and the chance to manage supplies with the maximum flexibility make it an ideal tool for a sustainable trade capable of shortening the chain."