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Interview with Carlo Nicotra

Italian avocados - balance between strengths and criticalities

Carlo Nicotra, an avocado producer with over thirty years of experience, gives his point of view on the dynamics of Italian avocados. 

Three-year-old avocado grove in Puglia 

"Demand is constant and the produce, which comes mainly from southern Italy, is much appreciated both in Italy and abroad for its organoleptic properties. Organic fruits are also very demanded, and have greater appeal on shelves. The best batches have reached quotations of €4.50/kg: they are high-quality organic batches with extra standards and grades. The rest of the production hovered between €3.00/kg and €4.00/kg."

"The insufficient rain in some areas unfortunately led to small grades. Water was lacking, especially from September-October 2022, so emergency irrigation had to be carried out until January 2023. However, where there were no problems, grades were larger and did well on the market. The Italian avocado season starts in late October. We start with the Bacon variety and then continue from Christmas onwards with Hass, which lasts until May. It is not true that avocados can only be grown in Sicily, as our orchards do well also in Puglia, Sardinia and Basilicata. There are also some in southern Lazio."


Avocado consumption in Italy is at around 24,000 tons (2020 data), and is part of an overall trend that has seen an increase in the purchase of tropical fruit of 45-40% in 2017-2020. The figures are growing by 20% every year. Compared with the massive imports, Italian production is staggered and does not do well in comparison when it comes to volumes. Production is not planned, but Carlo Nicotra states that he's planted "around 200 hectares over the past few years between Sicily and southern Italy, and is continuing with around 20 ha a year." 

When it comes to flavor, there are no doubts as regards the organoleptic properties of Italian avocados, though grades and shapes are irregular. The production segment still needs to change before reaching certain standards.


"A recurring problem is the lack of yields or, worse, plant decline. Unfortunately this is due to the lack of preparation by entrepreneurs. It is in fact not possible to grow avocados just anywhere, sometimes not even in the proximity of existing groves, as the microclimate and essential factors for the correct development of plants and fruits can change also within a few hundred meters."

"Before planting a grove, various preliminary assessments need to be carried out and the data on irrigation water, soil and climate must be combined. Then a strategy must be made considering specific agronomic elements for each grove."

"Although soil and weather conditions must always be analyzed, we can say avocados grow well where lemons usually prosper. The eastern Etna area in Sicily is particularly favorable, then there are also areas in Messina, Syracuse and Palermo. The main diseases are caused by Persea mites and Armillaria Mellea attacks, but they are usually manageable."

For further information:
Carlo Nicotra
El Aguacate Vivai
+39 392 9893938

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