The Sicilian horticultural sector is currently in a difficult time, the problems are mounting and the light at the end of the tunnel seems far away. Massimo Pavan, a grower with a long career in the carrot and tomato business, described the situation.
“We are currently witnessing an abnormal drop in consumption. Normally there is always a drop in November, which usually doesn’t worry us, but this year it’s different. Consumers have a wait-and-see attitude, they worry about coronavirus, their jobs and their income. In Italy, some regions are more affected by the pandemic than others, resulting in a sharp drop in demand from the Ho.re.ca. industry, which represents an important segment of the market “.
“We have also noticed that Spain is going through a disastrous period with regard to cucurbits, especially cucumbers, and this is also having an impact on our market. By the way, this has nothing to do with Covid. In recent weeks, the price of zucchini has dropped from € 2.00 to € 0.25 per kilo and Italian cucumbers are priced at only € 0.10 per kilo, with product unsold. These are excellent greenhouse crops, but the selling price must be higher than the cost of keeping a margin for the growers. The situation for eggplants is no better, fluctuating and sometimes undervalued, like violetta which reaches € 0.30 per kilo “.
“The only crop that has good prices is tomato, but that’s only because it is very resistant to the ToBRFV virus. There is little supply so the price is high. The date tomato exceeds the threshold of € 3.00 per kg. Also high prices for cherry tomatoes, which reached € 2.30 per kilo “.
“At the same time, it is not possible to stop the flow of goods from North Africa which is lowering prices in European markets. We have observed this phenomenon with concern but nothing has changed, on the contrary, we are witnessing an uncontrolled situation. increase in volumes. Low prices overtake certain problems that European producers have to face, such as food safety, respect for workers’ rights, fair wages, reduced pollution environment and the use of plant protection products approved by the European Community “.