"Lemon prices have always been rather high over the past 5 years due to the lively demand especially for PGI lemons from Sicily," reports Salvo Magliocco, vice-president of a leading PO in eastern Sicily.
"Covid-19 pushed demand further as consumers started looking for products rich in vitamin C. Some countries (such as Turkey) even used fresh lemon juice as a natural disinfectant. After all, while lemons cannot protect us against the Coronavirus, they definitely contribute to boosting our immune system. Our current destination markets are northern Italy, France, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. The PGI produce is mainly consumed in Italy and France."
The campaign has been going well so far with sales prices of around €0.75/kg on average. "But we must not celebrate too soon as, while prices are high, volumes have been the lowest of the past 15 years, meaning the turnover of single companies has not changed much."
"What is more, we must also deal with dry rot and the subsequent need to replant many lemon groves at an exorbitant price. This fungus is spreading considerably, causing great damage to the Sicilian lemon economy. I believe we should avoid using early rootstocks such as Alemow (citrus macrophylla) as, despite the excellent yields already 4 years after planting, they regress just as quickly."
Lemon tree affected by dry rot
"We recently obtained the biodynamic certification as part of our policy to make our production completely sustainable. This also enables us to intercept a market share that it is no longer possible to ignore. We were among the first to obtain the organic certification years ago when the market started to demand such produce and now we are doing the same with biodynamic productions."
"There is a lot of competition on an international level especially from Spain, where businesses are particularly advanced when it comes to varietal innovation and product quantity. They are also very large and receive public funding, so they beat us when it comes to prices. Luckily, final consumers are aware of the high-quality of the Sicilian produce and choose it more and more."