Italy: Citrus fruit season has started in Sicily


The citrus fruit campaign is in full swing in Sicily but, as weather and soil conditions vary a lot, even within provinces, it is important to understand how the fruit from different areas is doing on the market


We talked about it with Giuseppe Pasciuta, President of ‘Consorzio di tutela dell’arancia di Ribera DOP’.

“Despite the adversities, the campaign started well with the Navelina variety, which had higher prices compared to last year especially for medium-large grades. Ribera oranges, whose grades are usually medium-large, are going through a weird season. Due to the prolonged drought caused by the high temperatures, we are expecting 10-20% fewer oranges and smaller grades.”

Luckily, the rain in September mitigated the effects of the drought but, in some cases, the high October temperatures affected fruit growth.

“The campaign should be good but, due to the higher number of smaller oranges, we are trying to alter the Ribera DOP orange specification to be able to sell the smaller grades as well, which are usually only used to make juices.”

In addition to the problems caused by the weather, we have to deal with those caused by man.

“Another essential aspect that is worrying producers is the irrigation network, which causes considerable damage year after year. There are constant delays and inefficiencies as there are leaks that are endangering the entire Ribera orange production.”

The complaint of the productive sector

“The inertia of the irrigation system heavily affects producers. 50% of the Ribera citrus fruit production is at risk if the problems are not solved. All the effort and commitment put into strengthening the productive system, stimulate the growth of our operators and improve the quality of our productions will be useless if we don’t solve the issue of water availability.”
The commercial season and the markets
The commercial season seems to have started well. Let’s see how prices are doing. “The data collected so far look promising also for the Washington Navel and Brasiliano varieties, which are currently being harvested in the earliest areas. Quality is excellent and quotations are higher than last year. Grades are medium and quantities are lower than last year at approximately 120,000 tons. Vaniglia groves are increasing and the market seems to be appreciating its unique qualities.”

“Organic Ribera DOP and Riberella are increasingly popular on the German market, followed by Austria, France, Switzerland and Belgium.”The Consortium played an important role in bringing the oranges to the foreign market and the presence of Ribera DOP oranges on the various retail platforms, the larger number of producers specialising in e-commerce, a network of small producers selling their oranges directly and the interest of the processing industry are just a few examples of just how successful Ribera oranges have been over the past few years.

The Consortium coordinated this process and managed all the initiatives carried out to strengthen the production network, commercial organisation, promotion and brand: this way, Ribera DOP oranges managed to tackle market challenges and guarantee a suitable income to producers.

The domestic market and foreign competition
“Arancia di Ribera DOP and Riberella branded products are a guarantee for producers and manage to compete with Spanish and African productions on the domestic market despite their often less competitive price. The quality and healthiness of our oranges, which undergo no chemical treatment in the post-harvest phase, mean the fruit can be trusted for its integrity.”

“Nonetheless, more investments need to be made on suitable brand policies and to widen the harvesting period with the introduction of late varieties, especially considering that we ran out of fruit in March in the past three years, leaving the market free for Spanish, Greek and Maghreb produce. We also need to improve our commercial organisation.”