“The Sicilian citrus processing campaign has not gone as expected, due to the prolonged closures of the reference channels of citrus derivatives. The large amount of small-sized product that has characterized this season has doubled the volumes available for the industry, with the result that now we have problems with the storage of juices and the refrigeration cells are now saturated. We are confident in the upcoming post lockdown re-openings, together with the restart of consumption, and an economic recovery in the country,” said Serafina Santini and Salvatore Scuto, owners of the Sicilian Lemonagro.
The company Lemonagro is specialized in the production and marketing of 100% Sicilian juices, both organic and conventional. A total production of 4000 tons of blood and blonde oranges, mandarins, prickly pears and lemons, from which it also obtains precious essential oils.
Other products are obtained from fruits grown and processed in Calabria, such as bergamot and clementines. Currently, the essential oils of bergamot, unlike the fresh citrus fruit, can boast the certification DOP-Denomination of Protected Origin and are used by the worldwide perfumery industry.
The brand also processes derivatives of summer fruits, in particular prickly pears, from which it obtains juices and raw materials for ice cream parlors and for the sweets and confectionery industry. The top product is obviously blood orange juice, whose range includes different types of juices and other natural ingredients used for particular blends. The company collaborates with Sicilian producers in the area near the provinces of Catania and Syracuse.
“Sicilian blood orange juice is very sought after. However, both the fresh and the processed products are affected by the lack of long-term planning. That’s why it is increasingly caught in the grip of foreign competition. Not only from Spain, but also from other areas that produce citrus fruits in high volumes compared to Sicilian productions, with prices sometimes halved compared to the 100% Sicilian juice, also because they are cultivated with the help of pesticides to increase the yields in the field that are no longer allowed in Italy”.
“Currently, in Sicily there are still large quantities of citrus fruits that are at an advanced stage of ripening. These citrus fruits risk having to remain unsold on the trees, because, as mentioned before, the cold storage cells for the preservation of the juice are saturated. On the commercial front, this is a growing segment, considering that these are 100% natural juices, in line with innovation in the beverage sector, which is increasingly moving towards recipes with reduced or zero sugar content, increasing the percentage of fruit in order to meet the demands of today’s consumer, who wants natural products with a high percentage of fruit.”
“The premium line is made of NFC juices (Not From Concentrate), fruit that can be consumed as if squeezed at home. These are juices obtained not from concentrate, but from the simple mechanical pressing of the fruit, without the addition of any other ingredient. The juice thus obtained is then deprived of the pulp, pasteurized at optimal temperatures (or unpasteurized, if requested by the customer) and then stored in tanks. Unpasteurized NFC juices are perfectly usable for cold pasteurization methods (HPP) and for the production of cold-pressed juices.”
Lemonagro’s commercial channels consist mainly of foreign countries, with 70% of turnover in France, Germany and the Netherlands.