The Sicilian citrus fruit season started a few weeks ago, though blood oranges are slightly late due to the weather that is still not favoring pigmentation. FreshPlaza has talked about it with Gerado Diana, president of Consorzio di tutela dell'Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP, to better understand the Sicilian season projections and dynamics.
"The trends are currently hard to define, as we will start harvesting and commercializing Moro oranges not before December 19th. Pigmentation is linked with temperature changes. Days have been very warm lately and we've registered a range suitable to fully ripen the fruits only over the past few days. Nonetheless, the produce is indeed extraordinary, with large grades ready to face market challenges."
As for the problems on which the consortium is working, Diana reports that "we have always cared about the environment and new packaging solutions. Many of our operators are looking for new eco-friendly and recyclable solutions. Everything that is plastic is no longer in fashion and eco-compatible and sustainable packaging is all the rage. We are working hard on this front. Another important aspect that we need to convey to people is that evergreen plants such as orange trees greatly benefit the environment when the right techniques and procedures are implemented, subtracting carbon dioxide and enriching the soil with organic matter. Orange groves are our woodland: they carry out an essential ecologic function and can become key for a sustainability that creates value for the environment and the economy."
"We are also busy figuring out what the reform of the PDO and PGI marks means. It concerns the reclassification of over 3400 products. The sector involves €71 billion on a European level, €17 of which in Italy alone. We have a unique agricultural and food heritage and we have the duty of making it known to the whole world and defending it against counterfeiting and any attempt to discredit it. The market for PGI blood oranges is global, but we need to increase the market shares in Europe, especially France, Germany and Switzerland. Once we strengthen these positions, we will be ready for the extra-European markets. The objective is to also reconquer market shares in Italy, where PGI products are usually sold from Rome upwards. We are working so that the value of our produce can be perceived in the south as well."
Innovation, training, generational replacement, integration between the links of the chain, fair remuneration and promotion of typical products. When it comes to blood oranges, "the consortium is working with the national radio and TV to promote the produce and integrate the links of the chain. The collaboration with two multinationals such as Coca Cola and McDonald's granted us extraordinary visibility. The Libera Terra cooperative produces jam with Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP dedicated to commissioner Beppe Montana, who was murdered by the Mafia in 1985. Linking PGI products and blood oranges to a production line that celebrates the figure of Beppe Montana fills us with pride and I believe it should fill with pride honest Sicilian citizens as well. We have 270 labels authorized to use our brand, which is very important to us. For a seasonal fruit such as blood oranges, processed products are our allies during the months when the fresh produce is not available."
For further information:
Consorzio di Tutela
Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP
Via San Giuseppe la Rena 30/B
95121 Catania (CT)
Via Passo del Fico S.P. 70/I C/da Jungetto,
C/o MAAS Corpo B Catania
+39 095 507681