"Unlike the 2020-2021 citrus season - which we can consider one of the longest ones in the past twenty years - the 2021 campaign offers a completely different scenario. Due to unstable weather conditions, there a no signs of a long season extended to May-June. In particular, the persistent rains of recent months in some cultivation areas are affecting the shelf life of the fruits, which are predominantly medium and small in size," explained Luca and Massimo Fagone, owners of the Sicilian company Arancia DOP.
Arancia DOP was founded by two historical producers from Palagonia, Catania: La Reale Group and Rosso Cuore Italia. In 2008, brothers Massimo and Luca Fagone began marketing citrus and vegetables under the Arancia DOP brand.
The company cultivates 30 hectare of land. Over the years, the business has expanded to Tuscany, with the opening of a new store in Montopoli in Val d'Arno, in the province of Pisa. To date - also thanks to their e-commerce - the company continues to expand the production line.
La Reale Group and Rosso Cuore Italia have a solid background in the industry. Not only do they market the fresh product, they also supply fresh juice to the Ho.re.ca. sector.
Arancia DOP's marketing calendar covers the whole year. For this purpose, it has early and late varieties, such as Navel, Tarocco, Moro, Sanguinello, Tarocco Gallo, Sciara, Meli and Sant'Alfio (oranges) and Nova (clementines), among others.
"In general, blood oranges are the most appreciated by consumers. That's why we are fully committed to expanding the acreage with varieties such as Moro Nucellare, Tarocco Scirè 2071, Tarocco Scirè Nucellare D2062, Tarocco Nucellare, Sanguinello 49-5-5, Tarocco Lempso e Ippolito and Tarocco Rosso VCR."
Luca Fagone, with young citrus plants of the Tarocco Scirè Nucellare D2062 variety in the background, planted in June 2021
This year's harvest is quite low and predominantly small sizes are also available, but the fruit looks beautiful and the flavor is exceptional. In addition, the company, like all other cultivation and marketing companies, is facing a sharp increase in the cost of raw materials, energy and logistics, and also has to deal with the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.
"We hope to see the typical resurgence of consumption during the Christmas period. In the wholesale warehouses and in our point of sale in Tuscany - where, in addition to citrus fruits, we sell a wide range of seasonal vegetables - we have noticed a 30% reduction in consumption, and therefore in sales, in the last two months. We don't know if it's the economic crisis that's biting, or the incessant rains that have kept families at home, or if it's the stores that are no longer able to withstand the competition from online purchases that, with the pandemic, have grown exponentially. We only know that the situation is not the easiest," explained Luca Fagone.
As a matter of fact, the percentage of online sales within Arancia DOP's turnover is also growing. In addition to citrus, a wide range of typical Sicilian products can be purchased at https://aranciadop.eu/shop. The customer base consists mainly of families (individually or together with other families) and groups of office workers who have the citrus delivered directly to the workplace. The company also has some customers abroad.
Arancia DOP sells its products in wholesale markets, through direct sales and online sales. About 40% of sales are generated abroad, particularly in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands.