Sicily: Temperatures in the coming days will be decisive

Season of Sicilian oranges opened this year with expected volumes well below the 2011 levels; there is talk about production drops between 30 and 50%.

In addition to issues like climate change, a contributing cause of lower production can be attributed to Citrus Tristeza Virus-CTV, a plant disease that is steadily expanding among citrus groves and trees that leads to a complete drying. The annual rate of plant loss reached a share of 10% and the local producers do not always have the economic strength - in the absence of targeted action plans at the regional level - to provide for replanting.

To talk about citrus market and expectations for the coming months, FreshPlaza has interviewed Sebastiano "Nello" Alba (pictured right), Managing Director of Oranfrizer, an Italian company operating in the market for the production of citrus fruits and fresh fruit juices, which has just celebrated its first fifty years.

The entrepreneur points out that the orange variety Tarot, typical of ​​Catania area, will be available in the next few days, but for the pigmentation of the pulp few more weeks may be required: "In Sicily we experienced a mild climate to all November, while the red color of the orange is a natural phenomenon that requires temperature variations between day and night, with low night temperatures. The next week, with the weather forecast announcing the arrival of the cold, will therefore be decisive."

On the other hand, the temperate climate has had a positive impact on the maturity index of oranges for the 2012 season: "We are at a level of 4 points more compared to 2011. The sugar content of the fruit is very high, which has so far determined the commercial success of Sicilian oranges. "The early orange Navelina, for example, reported very good sales and stocks could go before Christmas. The producer prices are also good: approximately 0.30 cents/kg.

With regard to the Moro and Sanguinello, also belonging to the family of "red" Alba confirms a situation of shortage on the supply side: "The little product available this year is already under contract for supplies to our better customers".

Oranfrizer, in addition to the domestic market, has re-established business contacts with Scandinavia, which until the 70s and 80s was an interesting target for the Sicilian blood orange. "Who before us opened this road, however, was not able to keep it. We have set foot in Norway, Finland and Denmark only a few years ago, with great satisfaction and great results. Scandinavia is a market where the demand for blood orange is growing at an annual rate of 30%, especially in the age group of consumers aged 40 and over who remember this citrus fruit as a food of their youth."

Request are also coming from Germany and Switzerland, in view of the limited volumes coming in this season, Oranfrizer has therefore expanded its supply base: "We involved other producers, both for the fresh market than for processing. The juice industry risks to have very little raw material, also in consideration of the fact that the quality of citrus fruit is very high this year and therefore almost the entire production will be destined to the fresh market."

The situation will also cause limited and carefully targeted promotions at retail supermarket chains, with lower discounts than other years.

In conclusion, Sebastiano Alba points out: "The Sicilian blood orange is a product that has the good fortune to possess a natural trait: it is a drop of red in a sea of ​​blond. This, if in part facilitates our task to enhance it on markets, still it takes dedication and efforts to reach the goal."

For more information:
Tel: +39 (0)95 7937111
Fax: +39 (0)95 7937192

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