Citrus fruit campaign starts in Sicily

The citrus fruit campaign has just started in Italy and it seems it has been affected by the summer drought. Entrepreneur Pietro Russo makes an analysis of the situation in eastern Sicily.

Pietro Russo

Blonde oranges
"The season starts with the first shipments of Navelina oranges. Quality is satisfactory with average grades, while the colour seems more developed than usual."

According to Russo, the almost total absence of attacks from the Mediterranean Fruit Fly is significant.

The commercialisation of Navelinas seems normal at the moment, as demand is in line with previous years and therefore all the produce is absorbed. In addition, retailer chains are showing a rising interest in organic productions. 

"The situation is slightly different for lemons. There will be less fruit available in the beginning as grades are small. It will take a month for more produce to become available. This of course means prices are higher and sales slower, especially in foreign markets where there is competition form other producer countries such as Spain."

Blood oranges
"Things are still rather uncertain for blood oranges as grades are small, once again due to the summer heat. Smaller fruit doesn't sell very easily. Prices of the size demanded by retailers are higher."

"The risks is however that retailers won't accept high prices during the procurement phase. Problems are even bigger when inexperienced operators negotiate, as they divide up supplies just to sign contracts and start shipping. It may do us good to reorganise exports by activating controls and regulating export work when it comes to grades and varieties."

Organic trend positive, but 'Tristeza' causes some worry 
The positive trend continues for organic blood oranges, however we must not forget the Tristeza virus (CTV) that is hitting the segment hard. The larger, more structured businesses have started to re-plant with resistant rootstocks, but it will take some time for things to get back to normal.

"Growers are trying to fix the situation but it's almost impossible to convert production if the sector is not supported. This is why a believe problems will last a long time."

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