Five years ago, Biagio and Tiziano Porretta, two young brothers from Calabria who shared their family's passion for citrus fruit, decided to set up a company that focuses mainly on exports to Europe.
Tiziano and Biagio Porretta (Photo by: Arpo Distribuzioni)
"We produce various citrus fruit varieties on 25 hectares in the Piana di Rosarno/Gioia Tauro area. In addition, we have a warehouse in San Ferdinando (Reggio Calabria) which features three cold storage units, two of which for de-greening, and one for the sorting and packaging of our fruits," explains Biagio Porretta, sales manager at Arpo Distribuzioni, owner of the Arpo Fruit brand.
"Ours is a family business: the company was set up in 2017, but we have been doing this job for far longer. We can count on the experience of our grandfather, who still supports us at 92. We have gone though bad (many!) and good (few!) seasons, as unfortunately every year is different when it comes to citrus fruit."
Clementines (Photo by: Arpo Distribuzioni)
Biagio and Tiziano are trying to get better at management and are converting old groves with new varieties. "We are focusing on bergamot oranges, which are typical from our area, as well as on new cultivars of the Navel, Tarocco and Doppio Moro group, especially late ones as they are more suitable for our territory," explains Biagio.
"Compared with the Corigliano-Rossano area, i.e. the Sibari Plain, our clementines are around 10 days late. Harvesting is about to start: the weather so far has not provided the right temperature change to make our fruits develop the right color, just like in the rest of Italy and Europe. Another negative factor is the lack of labor. This year, there is 30% less produce and most clementines are medium-small."
Company citrus grove (Photo by: Arpo Distribuzioni)
Arpo Distribuzioni exports at least 80% of the production, which includes some volumes collected from local producers. "We mainly specialize in exports to Eastern-Europe for general markets and supermarket chains. Our clementines also reach France and Germany. There is currently a lot of calm and uncertainty, especially on the general markets, and the hikes in prices of raw materials, energy, gas and transports are making operators more careful. The prices of the early produce are currently medium-high, but only because it is the start of the campaign. Everything will depend on consumption and demand."
Arpo Fruit-branded orange crates (Photo by: Arpo Distribuzioni)
According to the sales manager, this year it is necessary to proceed calmly and make clients desire the produce to obtain far prices that cover the expenses. "So the rule will be: low profile, planning and a lot of negotiation."
The Russian ban and the pandemic
"Up until 2013, we exported almost 30-40% of our volumes to Saint Petersburg and Belarus. We are still affected by the lack of these markets, as they brought us a lot of satisfaction. Now we make do with only selling to Europe."
Tiziano and Biagio Porretta in the warehouse (Photo by: Arpo Distribuzioni)
The Arpo Fruit brand is currently available in Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia. "Before the pandemic, we organized visits so our clients could see how we worked and received useful advice. After the pandemic, social media and WhatsApp have remained useful tools that make relations easier, as they have replaced the tours."
Bergamot oranges (Photo by: Arpo Distribuzioni)
Kiwifruits: future opportunities
"The Gioia Tauro plain has been going through a deep crisis when it comes to citrus fruit, and many producers have opted for new investments before the pandemic. These include kiwifruit orchards. We commercialize the fruits from our region all over Italy, and especially in the north of the country."
"In the future, we are hoping to invest in kiwifruit with dedicated lines and cold storage units. Our warehouse is actually very close to the port of Gioia Tauro, which is a precious opportunity."
For further information:
Arpo Distribuzioni Srl
Sede legale: Via Nazionale Sud 432 - 89025 Rosarno (RC)
Sede operativa: Via Provinciale Iudicello Snc - 89026 San Ferdinando (RC)