"With our 110 hectares of artichoke crops, entirely of the Romanesco G1 variety, we are a point of reference in Sicily," reports Giuseppe Scudera, a young entrepreneur with a company in the Gela plain (CL).
Italy and France are the reference markets
"After University, I took over the reins of the family business focusing on improving quality and making processing more efficient. I tried not only to improve the business, but I have also obtained the GlobalGAP certification, which is useful for our relationship with the Italian and foreign retail chains, especially in France."
"Artichokes remain our core business, but we also own 30 hectares of melons."
"This year, we will also introduce a variety of mini-watermelons thanks to an agreement with a well-known national brand. There are also 11 hectares of cabbage in the Gela territory and a greenhouse covering 8 hectares in Santo Pietro (CT) dedicated to bell peppers. Our processing facility covers over 500 sq m."
Delocalization is an alternative to aggregation
"Over the past few years, we have witnessed a progressive regression of the fresh produce sector, which I believe depends on structural problems difficult to solve. We are located in a marginal position compared to the main European markets, so logistics is more difficult. There is no strategic vision and, mostly, EU investments tend to favor large producers to the detriment of small and medium businesses. We need to aggregate, otherwise we risk having to delocalize our productions."
"What is more, foreign competition is not always fair and safeguard clauses do not seem to be working. We sometimes witness blatant breaches of the rules which, for example, prohibit the entry of Tunisian and Egyptian artichokes with leaves. Yet it happens, and the Tunisian produce may seem Italian and it remains fresher due to the shorter distance."
"Not to mention the residues of crop protection products, as the thresholds are never complied with as they are in Italy. The truth is that there is a lot of talk about the added value of Italian products, but Italy itself is still too focused on pricing policies."