The weeks after Christmas registered a drop in Sicilian artichoke prices and sales, leading to significant losses for the local economy in Niscemi (CL), know as the "artichoke capital".
"During this terrible year, we have witnessed a general drop in prices that is affecting the entire fresh produce sector. The situation might get even worse, as the weather forecast announced frost," reports Alessandro La Russa, sales manager for L'Ortofrutticola F.
In the photo, Alessandro La Russa, sales manager for de L'Ortofrutticola F.
L'Ortofrutticola F is located near Niscemi (CL), Sicily, and produces around 16 million heads of various varieties including Violetto, C3 and Apollo. They are mainly commercialized abroad and on the domestic general markets and are available in various formats to meet the needs of the distribution platforms. The brand sells produce from 500 hectares of open fields and greenhouses, 80% of which destined to the cultivation of artichokes.
In the photo, sales manager Salvatore La Porta.
"In December 2020, sales were driven by the festive period. Now, however, due to the drop in consumption, prices are so low that they do not even cover the production costs, we are talking about €0.12 per head. Now we fear that temperatures below zero will leave us with the sole alternative of sending the produce to the processing industry, at least for the Violetto variety," specifies sales manager Salvatore La Porta.
There are multiple reasons behind the consumption crisis - families have less money due to the pandemic, which causes problems even for those who have a job. In addition, the restrictive measures impose do not favor consumption, not only due to the closures in the H&R sector, but also because people do not go grocery shopping as much.
"Despite this difficult moment, we ended 2020 with an 8% growth in turnover thanks to our wide range of products. We are indeed affected by the crisis, and we are managing only because we work with high volumes, although margins are low to meet consumer needs. The real problem for our sector remains foreign competition, which sees Egypt and Turkey as our main competitors."
In detail, the main market for Tunisian artichokes is the Italian one, where 80% of their production is commercialized. The fresh produce reaches mainly the Fondi, Rome, Naples and Apulian market, while that destined to the processing industry is sent mainly to Apulia.