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Italy: Good quality, prices support artichoke market

The artichoke sales trend at the Centro agroalimentare in Bologna is satisfactory.

"Whereas the Genoa and Milan markets prefer thorny varieties, over here people prefer them minus the thorns. At the moment, we are talking about Violetto catanese, Tema and Morello (or Toscano), which come mainly from Sicily and Apulia. We will have to wait until at least February for Roman ones," explains Roberto Piazza, director for Fedeagromercati Acmo Bologna.

"Quality is high and prices are good. Wholesale flower heads reach 35 to 55/60 cents each in 15,20,25 and 30 head crates. People though tend to prefer smaller packets when prices are medium-high."

Although community regulations talk about 10 cm stalks, the market accepts stalks that are max 20 cm long with one or two leaves. The produce must be placed in crates that can be stacked, because the "bunches" sold in Sicily make it impossible to handle pallets.

"When our product is not available, we import artichokes from Brittany (Prince de Bretagne in particular) and Egypt."

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