Producers from the OP Esperidio cooperative work on around 1100 hectares with the best citrus fruit productions - early and late varieties - on the foothills of Mount Etna in Sicily, a region known for its blood orange productions (Tarocco, Moro e Sanguinello, certified with the PGI mark). All growers are requested to comply with sustainable agricultural principles that respect the natural equilibrium and rural heritage.
"This is what consumers ask for. Over the past few years, in fact, they have become increasingly aware of environmental issues and sustainability. Supply adapts as a consequence," explains Lino Catena, president of OP Esperidio.
The 2020/21 orange campaign has started well, with medium grades and a high quality. The cold weather has arrived at the right moment and is accelerating pigmentation. Product requests are coming in and retailers are pleased.
"We are receiving positive feedback for our produce, which is certified and traceable. Over the years, we have worked to make our brand more recognizable, especially on the foreign markets," explains Lino Catena.
"Our point of strength is the production and commercialization of Tarocco oranges, a unique product thanks to the characteristics it develops in our area. As regards sustainability, we have carried out many field and post-harvesting tests, obtaining the results we had hoped for, meaning we will have a vast range of Tarocco oranges available grown with a zero environmental impact. Starting this week, we will start distributing Tarocco abroad and will start commercializing Moro oranges as of week 52."
The OP Esperidio facility is equipped with innovative high-capacity processing lines that can meet the needs of the big retail chain.
This is achieved planning each single phase in order to provide clients with fresh natural products that do not undergo any treatments during harvesting and processing.
The objective is to supply citrus fruit packaged in recyclable material that is biodegradable or can be composted. The main objective is to supply certified high-quality fruit in ultra-light recyclable packaging with a reduced plastic and paper content.
"Our green revolution started with the 2020/21season. We aim at achieving high parameters when it comes to sustainability, economic impact, technical-industrial performance and consumer perception. We have therefore opted for cardboard packaging solutions and for reducing the use of plastic by over 50%."
The cardboard solutions used by the cooperative integrate materials from sustainable forestry that hold the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. Some labelling technologies used are fully compostable and comply with the highest quality and food security standards.
All OP Esperidio packets feature a QR Code linked to our webpage describing company objectives and contributions towards this new sustainable revolution as well as the characteristics of the new packaging solutions.
"We believe that sustainability is an essential purchase driver for aware consumers, and that it also contributes to brand growth. Sustainability is a process that does not only benefit final consumers, as it is the result of a virtuous path that respects the environment while producing good healthy fruits. In line with this vision, we have also installed photovoltaic panels to reduce energy consumption and develop renewable resources."