Everybody knows things are not going well for Sicilian citrus fruit, though there are a few contradictions that are rather surprising. The CTV virus has definitely been one of the sector’s worst enemies over the past few years, leading to the uprooting of many hectares.
Moro oranges have been one of the varieties most hit, so much so that processing industries have had to import concentrated juice from Australia – a paradox that should make Sicilian producers think. We talked about it to one of the leading experts on the Sicilian citrus fruit sector.
“Commercialisation is almost over. There is only the Tarocco variety left to export, as Sanguinello is almost no longer available because of diseases. They used to be produced mainly between Palagonia and Grammichele (CT), a vast area that now must be completely uprooted,” explains Pietro Russo.
“At least 50% of citrus fruit groves must be uprooted, yet we still manage to meet market demands, though at prices below expectations. Unfortunately, we have to deal with competition from Spain, as the country occupies a large share of the market especially when it comes to blonde varieties.”
“The industrial processing sector continues to absorb the produce considered unsuitable for the fresh market, and tends to prefer the Moro variety due to its high anthocyanin content. However, prices do not cover costs, so the future of the sector remains uncertain.”