The citrus fruit campaign that is about to start will be affected by the drought of May-August 2021 which, combined with the limited water supplied by the consortium, hindered irrigation in the crops with no water resources.
"There will be a 40-50% reduction in the availability of blonde oranges and tangerines and a 20-30% reduction in the availability of blood oranges and lemons. There are some problems for prickly pears too, as yields are lower and grades are smaller. What is more, there are also issues related to the absence of a land registry in Sicily, which heavily penalizes all of the island's productive sectors," reports Salvatore Imbesi (in the photo), technical director at Ortogel.
Both in Italy and abroad, the 2020/21 campaign was characterized by considerable swings in demand, as many businesses had to close for periods of time due to the pandemic. In addition, there were difficulties when it came to the shipping of products abroad as, due to the general increase in the price of energy and raw materials, the cost of transport increased by 100% for a period of time and then grew every week reaching +600%.
"Unfortunately, the difficulties that affect agriculture and agro-industry in our Country include the absence of rules and projections linked to agricultural productivity and the actual areas cultivated. This means it is impossible to correctly plan productive and financial activities in the short and long term."
"At the moment, high-end citrus fruit productions are considered commodities and are continuously negotiated on the global markets, not keeping into consideration their peculiarities and the costs sustained to produce them. Without mentioning that the prices of the entire production chain have increased (raw materials, packaging, electricity, gas, water, transport, services) and have become unsustainable for the companies that had already signed supply contracts with clients and big retail chains."
"Big retail chains continue to try and obtain products at a low price to be more competitive and attract more consumers, with the only objective of guaranteeing their own margins at the expense of suppliers who, at times, are forced to lose money."
When it comes to sustainability, the company has introduced suitable measures to reduce the use of plastic materials already in 2019.
First of all, it replaced the entire brick juice packaging line, as the old one produced shrink-wrapped plastic film packets. This new machine produces bricks in cardboard trays obtained from sustainable and recyclable raw material.
Ortogel is also testing new solutions with a lower environmental impact, using organic and biodegradable materials. Specifically, it is a project to replace plastic of mineral origin with plastic material of vegetable origin, obtained from the fermentation of the sugar beet.
"We are working hard to comply with all Community directives part of the Agenda for sustainable development 2030. However, the sector does have atavistic problems that penalize it. What is certain is that, until we have more certainties on the timeframes for the granting of investments and on the positioning of our Sicilian citrus fruit on the global market, no young entrepreneurs will be able to start their professional career."
This coming fall and winter, Ortogel will attend fairs such as Anuga in Koln and any other in-person event organized for 2022.