Dimensional growth is the challenge to be faced in the coming years, especially where productions are still small compared to international requests and competition. Sicily, the citrus fruit supply chain is struggling to become efficient. A challenge that can also be overcome through forms of aggregation, which make companies capable of facing an increasingly globalized market. Otherwise, the risk is the loss of important market shares in countries such as China and Russia, with all the challenges associated with internationalization processes.
“The 2019 citrus fruit marketing campaign promises the same quantities of product as last year, with superior quality characteristics. Even the fruit size will be higher on average. We process 25 thousand tons of product. On the podium, Tarocco and Moro blood oranges and a wide variety of fine mandarins and lemons “. So at FreshPlaza Lino Catena ( pictured ) president of OP Esperidio.
OP Esperidio is a well-known cooperative company in the sector of citrus fruit production and distribution on the national and foreign market. Born from the union of 70 operators in the sector, it was founded in 2015, but it was already operating in another company form since the seventies. The location of the company is to be considered strategic, as it is located in Palagonia, Sicily, in the most suitable area for the production of red pulp oranges, namely Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello , recognized and certified with the IGP-Protected Geographical Indication mark.
“In recent years – says Lino – we have invested energy and resources in renovating the plants devastated by the Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV). Thanks to the actions taken, we have limited the problem of low production in terms of volume and quality of the fruit. aggregation of the sector to create critical mass with our contributing members. This also to improve the quality of the product, through continuous research, careful varietal selection and field experimentation. The goal is to obtain new more resistant blood orange cultivars , able to cope with new plant diseases and climatic stress, but also extend the commercial production calendar “.
The company with approximately 1,350 hectares of land is a leader in the production and marketing of a wide variety of citrus fruits – including Tarocco, Moro, Navel, Tarocco rosso, seedless lemons and several hybrids such as Tacle and Mandared. With a view to a market that increasingly requires optimal and competitive quality and control parameters, the brand is able to offer a guaranteed, natural, BRC, IFS, GlobalGAP, Grasp certified product .
OP Esperidio supplies citrus fruits to foreign retailers, with an export share of 70% and destinations in Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Slovenia . Reference markets increasingly demanding and looking for new stimuli, varietal innovation, new flavors and above all quality.
“On the organic production side – underlines Lino – the difficulties in working in this market segment due to lack of volumes, in the face of difficulties related to yield / hectare and to the climate that does not help”.
The cooperative has joined the CREA (Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture) technology transfer program concerning the genetic improvement of citrus fruits, called ” fast track ” . This in order to carry out a field assessment of the productive, qualitative and commercial potential that the new citrus varieties may have on the market.