The Sicilian organic new carrot season will start in a few weeks' time. After three years characterized by the lack of produce and high prices, how is the situation looking for 2021? FreshPlaza has talked about it with Roberto Giadone, president of Natura Iblea, a company located in south-east Sicily specializing in the production of organic new carrots and manager of Paniere Bio, an online portal selling typical local products.
"During the past 3 seasons, the average price of organic new carrots between March and June has been really high, with peaks of over €0.70/kg for big bags. Although we can say this quotation was given by a market fluctuation, we might be facing a growth in the intrinsic value of this particular product, which stabilized at €0.60-0.80/kg."
"The confirmation of something that is more than a mere hypothesis derives from our direct experience: as Natura Iblea and Paniere Bio, we supply leading supermarket chains in Europe and have closed supply programs with prices between 80 and 95 eurocents/kg for organic carrots in 14x1 kg bags. If supermarkets are keen to stipulate programs of this type 6 months in advance, it means demand for organic new carrots exceeds supply."
"Natura Iblea" organic yellow carrots
From the analysis of Roberto Giadone, it may seem there is a need to increase the areas destined to the cultivation of this product.
"Producing organic carrots is very complex and expensive. Because of organic rotation indexes, you need at least 25 hectares available to cultivate 10 hectares of carrots. Production and harvesting costs are well above €13,000 per hectare (post-harvest data), while yields never exceed 40 tons. Ergo, €13,000 are needed to produce 40 tons of organic carrots, i.e. €0.33/kg, to which you must add processing and packaging costs, which range between €0.30 and €0.35 depending on the type of packaging. If producing one kg of organic carrots in bags costs €0.75/kg, the average price of €0.80 is fair. We can say that, for the first time, the price is determined by the production and not by questionable logics."
Forecasts for the 2021 season
"For the 2021 season, the quantity of organic carrots grown in Sicily will remain unvaried compared to last year," refers Giadone.
The campaign should start a few days early, although with minimum quantities. Harvesting should really start after April 15th. Natura Iblea and Paniere Bio should commercialize around 5,700 tons of organic carrots plus 850 tons of organic yellow carrots in total.
"In order to meet the increasing demand from our clients, we will double the carrot processing line with state-of-the-art systems as of March. We will be able to process around 9 tons per hour and place them in bags, pillow bags, trays, crates and big bags. Everything hydrocooled at 3°C."
"Natura Iblea" carrots
"Finally, I would like to share my thoughts on the incidence of Covid on agriculture. Do not think that it is possible to speculate or alter prices because of the pandemic. I am talking about carrots in particular, a consumer good that will maintain a stable price. I undertake not to increase the price of organic carrots produced by Natura Iblea above the average of the past three years."
*All photos supplied by the company
Natura Iblea Scrl
C.da Marabino c.p. 19
97015 Ispica (RG) - Italy
Tel.: +39 0932 955696
Fax: +39 0932 954489