A lean year ahead for the industrial citrus processing sector
“The citrus campaign is coming to an end, given the low quantities of blond oranges and lemons available, and the overall results seem much lower than initial expectations,” said Salvatore Imbesi (in picture)president of the business network which includes three important companies operating in the Sicilian area, namely Ortogel and Agrumi-Gel, which are citrus processing industries, and the Service Calatino cooperative.
According to the official, the negative situation is due to multiple factors. First and foremost, the low quantity of fruit available for processing, alongside the constant increase in the price of all the factors of production, from packaging to methane, including diesel and electricity.
“The increases exceeded raw material costs, subsequently resulting in grueling negotiations with customers and raw material suppliers to sign contracts, so that production could be guaranteed to continue,” Imbesi said.
Ortogel and Agrumi-Gel exclusively process the best citrus fruits from the Sicilian supply chain, including blood and blond oranges, lemons and tangerines, but also Calabrian excellences such as bergamot and grapefruit. The products obtained are natural and concentrated juices, clear and cloudy juices, cold and hot extracted essences, conventional and organic juices and essences, dried peels for pectin extraction, dried peels for animal feed and bioethanol. The farms are also equipped with suitable facilities for the processing of summer fruits (prickly pears, apricots, peaches and nectarines) and pomegranate, with the aim of obtaining their two main by-products, namely arils. fresh for the fresh cut sector and 100 percent juice. .
The next 2022/23 citrus campaign does not promise to be a year of abundance for the processing industry, given the current climatic conditions, characterized by constant temperatures of 40°C and a total absence of precipitation, which favored fruit drop with significant losses of budding fruit. The low availability of fruits is also a consequence of the spread of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) which afflicts many plants not yet renewed with resistant rootstocks.
“If we wanted to draw a comparison with the very unfortunate current events, we can say that the Sicilian citrus sector has been in the midst of war for many years. It is a battle lived on the skin of indebted producers – which is never spoken of, because it does not claim victims – who daily close their businesses in the most total silence and indifference. It is particularly sad to observe the behavior of insiders who hope, in order to stay afloat, in the financial meltdowns of others, insofar as in order to acquire new customers, they assume the increase in production costs even when they exceed income. I wonder what logic could ever lead to the contradiction of wanting to work at a loss. In such a situation, in fact, only processing companies in the primary sector are at risk of collapsing, and certainly not those that market derivative products reaching the final consumer,” continued Salvatore Imbesi.
“In Sicily we are also suffering heavily from the consequences of the Tristeza virus (CTV), not realistically assessed by those who are supposed to scientifically and conscientiously dictate the line of agricultural policies. Specifically, the lack of planning and the urgent conversion of hectares of land affected by the virus, which continues to mow down citrus orchards, which is why, in most cases, each grower has borne the cost of renewing the plants, and so it is thanks to these reckless farmers and we can count on the productivity of new plantations. These are small plants which, while waiting for full production, promise an average of 25 kilograms of fruit, compared to 100 kilograms for the most mature plants. It is therefore It is important to stress that, for five years now, the citrus orchards undergoing renovation will produce quantities of fruit to be processed that are significantly lower than the volumes usually trained. »
“We believe it is time for a change of direction, and therefore urge the government to clarify the volumes of citrus fruits destined for processing and the relative quantities of derivatives traded. No less important, we must take note that climate changes that lead to temperatures of 40°/50°C or water bombs and hailstorms that are no longer sporadic, cannot be solved by classifying them as disasters. natural. We are heading towards the desertification of green spaces and, as we know, agriculture is already paying a very high price if this ecological crisis cannot be stemmed. It means preparing to live in a world with fewer resources, less energy, less abundance, but without being caught off guard since we are already out of time”, concluded Salvatore Imbesi.
For more information:
C.da Balchino Zona Industriale
95039 Caltagirone (CT) (Italy)
+39 0933 1902800
+39 348 8949166
E-mail: [email protected]
The Web: www.ortogel.com