Italy: Sicily set for best citrus crop in 10 years, claims Oranfrizer
Southern Italian citrus company Oranfrizer has high expectations ahead of this year's campaign thanks to favorable weather conditions that will be conducive to "excellent" aroma and flavor in the fruit.
With temperatures dropping, and the peak of Mount Etna seeing its first bit of snow, the citrus harvest season in Sicily is fast approaching. In a release, the company said the Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello blood oranges were the most highly anticipated.
"What will start in December promises to be the best year for the citrus harvest in the last ten years," said the group's Nello Alba.
"There are not significant amounts of large-sized fruits," he said, adding there would be medium-sized blood oranges until May while there were also expectations for lower impacts from the Tristeza Virus.
"Up to now, temperatures have been excellent, and we are monitoring the citrus groves."
He said rains were "doing a great deal to nourish plants and their fruit".
"We are awaiting the final stage of ripening during which they will take on their characteristic pigmentation, the oranges will turn the typical shade of red that so delights consumers, and both the acidity and sugar levels are signalling that we will be harvesting truly excellent fruit," Alba said.
Oranfrizer has dealt in blood oranges as its core business for more than 50 years and distributed over 20,000 metric tons (MT) of citrus fruit around Italy and abroad last season.
The blood orange, aside from being able to boast the Protected Geographical Indication awarded by Europe, is prized for its unique flavor and its high anthocyanin content.
Appreciation for these citrus fruits is increasing in Italy, as well as in Northern Europe, the main export market for Oranfrizer.
"There is a growing demand for blood oranges in Norway and the U.K.," explains export manager Sara Grasso.
"And they are conquering new ground in the shops of the most demanding retailers in Northern Europe, with more consumers buying them, as they enjoy their high nutritional value, Italian origin, and zingy flavor on the palate.
"Oranfrizer’s blood oranges are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in these countries, as demonstrated by new buying and consumption habits, as now, even abroad, they are used to make tasty, fresh salads."
She said the next citrus campaign would involve not only exporting blood oranges from the Catania plains, but also the company's Syracuse lemons, Washington Navel oranges, and Sicilian soft citrus cultivars such as Tacle, Mandared and Mandalate.
"The success of our citrus fruits abroad is the result of continuous improvement of the work done by the Oranfrizer team here in Sicily, aimed at keeping the standards of our supply high," she said.
Oranfrizer will be exhibiting at Fruit Attraction 2017 (stand 7E07B), in Madrid, Spain, from Oct. 18-20.