"As already highlighted at the beginning of the citrus campaign in October 2021 during the international fair Anuga in Cologne, the entire citrus supply chain has suffered unsustainable increases on all production assets including energy costs, packaging, chemicals. In addition, compared to the campaign 2020/21 - despite the 50% reduction in the volume of fruit available for processing - the market has maintained lower prices than the previous campaign," said Salvatore Imbesi, director of Ortogel, an important international supplier of citrus fruit juices derived exclusively from Sicilian cultivations.
Ortogel is historically a company that aims at supplying high-quality references by using technological systems and high-level processing lines, which are regularly updated in step with research and innovation.
"The economic rules of the relationship between supply and demand for price determination seem to be unhinged. Citrus growers are starting to lay the groundwork for the next citrus campaign, in spite of the world situation. This means paying unsustainable prices for all production factors: fertilizers, fuel, energy, pesticides, work in the fields. With no guarantees."
Imbesi is calling upon the trade associations "to address these anomalies with the institutions. What has been said for the citrus sector is also valid for the agri-food chains of pomegranate, prickly pear and other summer fruit which are still deprived of an agricultural land register, of a production register or of a brand that protects the effective productivity of installations. The seriousness of the situation is easy to understand, if we consider that the price of blonde oranges on the market today is lower than 40 years ago. The only certainty for the citrus campaign 2022/23 is the above-mentioned higher production costs. Under what conditions can the supply chain plan its production and operations in a scenario supported by assumptions that have no logic nor economic sustainability?".
"There seems to be a lack of awareness on this worrying scenario that marked the last part of the 2021 citrus campaign, clouded by disappointing international fairs where the only exception was for the trade associations that declare themselves satisfied to have been able to share common themes and to receive consensus for their efforts and the results obtained. How is this true?" - continued Salvatore Imbesi.
"In this regard, it is useful to mention that, for decades, all the unions have been asking for the protection of the citrus industry, having also signed the framework agreement of the citrus industry for processed products, in order to obtain equal and clear rules for the supply chain, which have been ignored so far. These are fundamental conditions to guarantee production, as has been requested for years. These conditions are a citrus register and an update of the directives that establish the sales names of fruit juices with the inclusion of the denomination of origin of the raw materials: Italian blood orange, Italian blonde orange, Italian lemon, Italian mandarin. Without such guarantees, the whole sector will continue to suffer the anomalies of a market that unhinges the laws of supply and demand."
"No response was then given after the approval on 28 July 2018 to the proposal to revise the EU directive on fruit juices and other similar products intended for food. It was asked to include in Directive 2001/112/EC the specific denomination blood orange for beverages obtained by using exclusively fruit juice from pigmented varieties with an anthocyanin content higher than 60 mg/l. In the absence of such reference, blood orange juice, as it has been until now, can also be a red product obtained by subsequent coloring of blond oranges, with the addition of colorants, such as cochineal red (E 120)."