This year, the harvesting of pistachios from Bronte started late and yields are not standard, which means production prices skyrocketed with an unavoidable effect on the market.
FreshPlaza has talked about it with Alfio Paparo, producer and member of the BoD of Consorzio del Pistacchio di Bronte DOP.
Harvesting of pistachios
A video shot by Paparo himself documenting harvesting in the Etna area and showing the work of operators. What the video cannot convey is the lovely smell of resin that sweeps through the pistachio grove.
"This campaign is definitely peculiar, as pistachios were affected by the cold and unusually rainy weather in May and early June. Until July, we feared pistachios had not even been pollinated, as the shells looked empty. You could barely see a small green embryo and some of us producers thought they would not even form."
The sacks brought in from the groves before they are emptied so the pistachios can dry in the sun
"In August, luckily, pistachios formed and ripened. Shells are all full however, despite the one month delay, not all of them are ripe."
Pistachios drying in the sun
"While the produce used to be harvested by the family, meaning we could afford the luxury to only harvest the ripest fruits and go back after ten or fifteen days, only professional operators are employed now. They are difficult to find and represent a considerable expense in our budget. That is why many agricultural businesses are behind schedule, as they cannot find the workforce leading to delays."
Pistachios in shells.
"What is more, this year we are realizing yields are slightly below standard. We believe harvesting will not end before mid-October. The lower yields, delayed harvesting and staggered ripening led to high prices right from the start of the campaign. Traders started purchasing in block on the trees even at €10/kg, to which €5 must be added for harvesting, meaning it's already €15 for non-branded produce. Pistacchio di Bronte DOP is two or three Euros more. The produce not in shells will therefore be sold on average at €50/kg for the H&R sector, ice-cream parlors, etc."
Harvesting of pistachios
This other video shows how pistachios are harvested.
"Anyway it is difficult to say how the market of the branded produce will end. We will have to see how final clients will respond, whether they will continue to purchase PDO pistachios in the same quantities or if they'll opt for non-branded produce. Despite the lower yields, however, fructification was abundant. Quality is excellent with a bright emerald green color, maybe even brighter than in other years. We are not expecting supply problems."