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Sicily, Italy

A new business network to promote the PGI Etna Lemon

Sharing strategies, fostering aggregation, joining forces and resources are the pillars of the Sicilian business network called Etna's. These basic notions embody the idea of doing business to achieve goals that can hardly be obtained alone. Currently, the network includes member companies with 150 hectares of land and an estimated production of about 5,000 tons of lemons per year, produced over four seasons. The fruits are processed in Acireale, in province of Catania, in the PGI Etna Lemon production area, in a large plant where citrus fruits are sorted and packaged.

The PGI Etna Lemon is a fine citrus fruit which in 2020 obtained its inscription in the register of protected geographical indications by the European Union.

"We represent a group of growers that produce this lemon, united in a business network that aims to share experience and good practices that add value to agricultural production, labor, the territory and its traditions. We believe that in order to grow and increase competitiveness on the markets, we need to focus on the supply and overcome the fragmentation of our production system. Being united in purpose will allow us to gain critical mass, have greater bargaining power, rationalize costs, optimize resources and shorten the supply chain, but above all, to be reliable towards our trading partners," said PGI Etna Lemon producer members of the Etna's business network.

The Etna lemon is grown in a fairly wide area that covers Acireale, Aci Catena, Aci Sant'Antonio, Aci Bonaccorsi, Aci Castello, Calatabiano, Castiglione, Fiumefreddo, Giarre, Mascali, Piedimonte, Riposto, Santa Venerina, San Gregorio, Valverde and Zafferana. To obtain Verdello lemons, the producers have developed a special technique that consists of causing water stress to the trees by depriving them of hydration during the months of June/July. After this period, through copious irrigation and nitrogen-based fertilization, the trees resume vegetative activity and bloom in August, with fruits, the Verdelli precisely, that will ripen the following summer.

Etna's Network is currently engaged in harvesting and commercializing the Verdello lemon (also called summer lemon), the production of which is exclusive to the Ionian-Etnean area of Sicily. Thanks to the cultivation technique on volcanic soil described above, there is constant production of this characteristic lemon, which turns out to be the only cultivation in summer. This is a lemon whose distinctive trait is an external coloration of the fruit tending to green, although inside it is perfectly ripe, very juicy and with edible peel since it is free of pesticide residues.

Verdello is a noble citrus fruit, cultivated on an area that covers about 3,000 total hectares, with no chemical treatment. Therefore, it is 100 percent edible, with high organoleptic characteristics. It is a controlled supply chain product, an alternative to lemons arriving on the markets from Argentina or South Africa during the same period.

The superior nutraceutical qualities that characterize this specific seasonal lemon have been extensively described in the scientific research carried out by CREA-OFA of Acireale (CT), "Qualitative and Nutraceutical Aspects of Lemon Fruits Grown on the Mountainsides of Mount Etna" published in Food Research International no.74, April 2015 Elsevier B.V. (See research paper).

"The Protected Geographical Indication of the Etna Lemon (See related article) is an extremely important trademark because, in addition to certifying its exact geographical origin, it enhances its typical and unique organoleptic and cultivation characteristics. These characteristics are made possible thanks to the extremely favorable microclimatic conditions that, in synergistic action with the particular nutritional characteristics present in the soil of volcanic origin, typical of the Ionian-Etnean Riviera, create a product of great value."

At this stage, the Etna's network is engaged in the cultivation phases that, with the appropriate agronomic interventions, will lead to the harvest campaign of the Primofiore lemon, scheduled to begin in October.

The network is made up of companies with a long tradition, specializing in citrus cultivation and who have decided to join forces in order to be able to offer the consumer a product available on the market with a wide commercial calendar. The goals are to strengthen cooperation among members, enhancing the processing and marketing network of the fresh supply chain, while not to mention the potential opportunities provided by the companies in the processing industry.

For more information:
Etna's Terra dei Limoni
Via Vallone
95024 Acireale (CT)

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