The Sicilian citrus fruit campaign seems to be characterized by a drop in prices and low consumption, unlike the 2020 campaign which saw orange prices skyrocket at the beginning of the pandemic with a lively demand that led to an early end of the campaign.
Lucio Oliveri, sole administrator at Motta Cooperativa Agricola, which commercializes a unique Tarocco variety under the Fragolino Arancia Rossa® brand explains the situation.
In the photo: Lucio Oliveri, sole administrator of Motta Cooperativa Agricola.
"The general drop in demand, and therefore in prices, is evident. We are not doing so bad because we mostly commercialize blood oranges which are not being affected by the crisis and depreciation, especially abroad. I am talking mainly about Tarocco Ippolito and Tarocco Lempso. Specifically, our Fragolino® is a premium brand, with prices never dropping below €2/kg for grades 3/4/6 as fruits are naturally red both inside and out and boast a high Lempso anthocyanin content."
Motta Cooperativa Agricola was established in 2001 by 21 producers highly specialized in the cultivation and commercialization of citrus fruit - clementines, tangerines, Moro, Naveline, Sanguinello and Tarocco in particular. Groves cover 230 hectares in total in an area destined to the production of high-quality fruits in the fertile Motta Sant'Anastasia plain (CT).
"If we had to make a comparison between the current campaign and the previous one, characterized by unprecedented demand, I can say sometimes I was sorry I could not satisfy all requests. At the moment, however, there is enough produce for everybody! The pandemic closed significant sales channels such as the hospitality sector. However, this does not mean things are going badly, quite the opposite actually. I have the confirmation that I made the right choice when opting for this highly-pigmented variety when no one believed in it."
Fragolino is characterized by a high sugar content of around 13-14 Brix, a long shelf-life and a good resistance thanks to the intrinsic qualities of the peel. All of this favors exports of this unique fruit with a strawberry aftertaste, especially to Switzerland and Germany.
Demand for medium-large fruits is still good, in a scenario characterized by small oranges.
“In such a situation, there are large quantities of produce that are not being placed on the fresh produce market. This means good volumes are also available for the processing industry, which is currently not collecting produce above 15 eurocents/kg."
Oranges are therefore affected by a market crisis caused by climate factors and worsened by the availability of foreign produce at a low cost. The impoverishment of families and the slowdowns caused by the pandemic are also contributing to the lower demand.