"We will start harvesting Sicilian artichokes in about ten days' time, in line with previous years. We are expecting good-quality heads, with quantities 30% lower than 2019."
In the phoot, L'Ortofrutticola F. general director Salvatore La Porta
"Crops are looking good despite the fact that we have had to work hard to deal with the lack of water caused by the lack of rain and temperatures above the average in recent months. The work of the consortia cannot and must not stop, especially in a moment such as this one."
FreshPlaza talked to Salvatore La Porta, general director at L'Ortofrutticola F., to discuss the 2019/20 campaign of Sicilian purple artichokes.
L'Ortofrutticola F is located near Niscemi, in Sicily, a city known as the "artichoke capital". It produces approximately 16 million heads of the Violetto, Romano, Tema, Apollo varieties, available in different formats depending on the distribution platforms of reference. The assortment includes local fresh products, in particular: tomatoes, bell peppers, artichokes, eggplants, zucchini, mini-watermelons and yellow melons available all year round and destined to wholesale markets and the big retail chain.
Alessandro La Russa, sales director at L'Ortofrutticola F.
Sicily represents one of the three leading districts for artichoke cultivation together with Puglia and Sardinia. In Sicily, artichokes are mainly grown in the Caltanissetta province, where L'Ortofrutticola F. owns approximately 500 hectares of open fields, 80% of which are dedicated to artichokes.
"Prices are expected to be good at the start of the campaign, also because artichokes from Puglia are available sooner, so volumes will start to drop in around 15 days' time. The domestic market usually requires and prefers Italian produce. We are hoping for the weather to be cold and rainy, not only because the heat damages quality, but also so the campaign can last for longer. We are also hoping for prices to remain stable as, in previous years, they have caused disastrous campaigns."
The products are available in various formats, especially 30x50 and 30x40cm crates containing 25 heads, 40x60 basket boxes and CPR crates for the big retail chain.
"We will see how the campaign will evolve when production will be in full swing. We are hoping there will not be another lockdown, otherwise consumers will prefer packaged produce rather than the loose one and will purchase more online."