The Sicilian aromatic herb market has great potential, mostly due to the versatility of the products in both the food and cosmetic sectors. FreshPlaza talked about it with Roberto Carbone, who stressed the importance of medicinal herbs also when it comes to diversification in companies looking for crops resistant to climate change and with a low environmental impact.
In the photo: Roberto Carbone, founder of Sari
"I grew up in the countryside in my grandparent's land and, right after graduating in Food Science and Technology, I asked my parents for my own plot. In 2018, I set up my own business and started to plant a vast range of aromatic herbs, gown using the best crop techniques and destined to obtain a line of processed products," reports Roberto Carbone, founder of Sari.
The company is located in Trecastagni (CT) and, as well as various aromatic herbs, it also grows "Cola" apples, a local fruit typical of the Etna area. Cola apples have a rounded cylindrical shape with a short stalk, freckled yellow peel and a white, juicy and slightly acidic flesh.
The range also includes jams available in 240, 120 and 70 gram jars: Coscia pears and lavender, Cola apples and rosemary, chili and bell peppers.
"We also have a range of spices available in sachets: oregano, chili pepper, mint, helichrysum, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender and saffron. Helichrysum boasts the same organoleptic properties as wild fennel and liquorice and is currently our leading product."
Helichrysum blossoms around mid-late June, while the flowers remain yellow throughout summer. When they dry, they do not fall down and maintain their unique color for a very long time, even until winter.
Processing keeps thermal stress levels to a minimum. This also applies to the drying of aromatic herbs, which are processed at temperatures starting from 5°C, thus maintaining the aroma, color and structure unaltered.
"One of our main products is the superfood snack known as Cafoodda, with Pizzuta d'Avola almonds and dried Coscia pears. The project was developed in partnership with some of my sporty friends with an eye to functional and healthy food. Cafoodda is available in two versions: dried Coscia pears and Pizzuta d'Avola almonds and Golden apples with roasted Etna hazelnuts. We will shortly introduce another two versions."
The brand focused a lot on packaging design as well, in order to convey the brand values to consumers who read labels and care about raw materials.
"Sari", the name chosen for the company, is a tribute to Sicily on the Etna side. The term was in fact used by Dominican friar Tommaso Fazello to define lava rocks in his 16th-century descriptions of Catania.
"My objective is to convey the potential of the medicinal spices typical of the Etna area and create a new market with potential clients also from the culinary world. Let us not forget that using spices is the most ancient and natural way of flavoring food. What is more, as the younger generations are now closer to ethnic food, it could help a market that has been growing over the past few years and is not just a fad."
Sari is a dynamic company based on an entrepreneurial project and young energy that look towards the future focusing on sustainability, the natural quality of products, diversification and preventing the negative impact of agriculture.
Sari's reference markets are specialized stores, local shops, shops in northern Italy and delicatessen in London and Paris. Online commerce is growing due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic.