"We processed large quantities of citrus in a year marked by exceptional volumes which were difficult to place for the fresh market. Specifically, the volumes processed compared to last year have more than doubled," said Antonino Imbesi, owner and marketing manager of the Italian company Agrumi-Gel.
"This is especially true for blood oranges, whose juice and other derivatives represent a niche market whose demands cannot be met. On the commercial front, the situation generated by the enduring pandemic has slowed down the trade of citrus derivatives because of both the closure of the Horeca sector and the slowdown of the logistics chain.
Agrumi-Gel works exclusively with the best citrus fruits from Sicily, including blood and blond oranges, lemons and tangerines, but also Calabrian top quality products such as bergamot and grapefruit. The products obtained are natural and concentrated juices, clear and turbid juices, cold and hot extracted essences, conventional and organic juices and essences, dried peels for pectin extraction, dried peels for animal feed, Bio-ethanol. The company processes pomegranate fruits since 2018, with the aim of obtaining the two main products, fresh arils for the fresh-cut industry and 100% pure juice.
"Compared to the large quantities of citrus fruit still available, lemons are currently suffering greatly from the crisis in both the fresh and processed sectors. The prices for the fresh produce have reached historical lows, while the processed products still have large quantities of overripe product in the countryside that, for the quality standards of Agrumi-Gel, do not fully express the best organoleptic characteristics of the fruit. I believe that it takes a product that is ripe at the right point in order to extract a high-quality essential oil. This is aimed at ensuring the profitable processing of a fruit that, especially in the current pandemic context, is paying the highest price in terms of low prices".
Agrumi-Gel is approaching the end of the processing of citrus fruits and is preparing for the pomegranate campaign, which will start in October with the variety Wonderful supplied by the Sicilian production chain, by far the most popular variety on the market, as well as Akko, Smith and Dente di Cavallo.
"We process both organic and conventional fruits, from various areas. In particular from the surrounding areas of Etna, but also from Agrigento, Trapani, Marsala and Canicattì. We are expecting a good campaign, also supported by the markets that show a greater sensitivity towards the Italian product, despite its costs being at least two and a half times higher than the Turkish pomegranate. Turkey is a country where labor costs are low and, at the same time, yields per hectare are higher because of the use of treatments in the countryside that are not sanctioned by EU legislation."
Wonderful pomegranate variety in the Trapani area
"We are optimistic about the results that the vaccination campaign will bring on a large scale. This crisis has caused, among other things, also heavy limitations on import-export activities, especially on sea shipments. As a consequence, there is a high demand for containers, with the result of an increase of prices on shipments and, consequently, those of goods. There is an imbalance in the logistics chain, mainly due to a shortage of containers or high rental costs, caused by the lack of empty containers from EU countries to China."
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