“The sales campaign of table grapes from the PGI Mazzarrone area (Sicily) has just started with the Victoria and Black Magic varieties. Because of the rain and low temperatures of the past few months, we are around ten days late, though volumes are good and bunch quality is excellent thanks to the nature of the soil and the punctual preparation of vineyards," explains Giuseppe Auteri, president of the Galetto PO.
In the photo, Giuseppe Auteri and Stéphane Boticchio, sales director of the French group Carpentière, partner of the PO for over twenty years
The main productions of the Galletto PO are Tarocco blood oranges and a wide range of greenhouse-cultivated early table grapes. The cooperative was established in 2008 by Giuseppe Auteri, who has been working in the sector for over 20 years and who, together with other nine representatives, decided to set up a cooperative that could meet the increasing demand for high-quality fruit.
The sales calendar for grapes starts with the Victoria and Black Magic varieties, which are very successfully between May and August as there are no competitors from other markets at least until mid-July. Seedless grapes steal the show, with OP Il Galletto being among the first licensees.
“We expect consumers to choose seedless grapes more and more, so we have identified the right varieties to intercept the growing consumption. In 2020, we became part of the IFG licensee family and, in 2021, we started working in partnership with SNFL as well. The conversion of company land and the sowing of new varieties entailed a considerable structural investment, considering that we gradually uprooted around 300 hectares of Italia grapes."
"We will start in July with the first 80 hectares of seedless grapes and will reach 300 next year. This year, we will start commercializing four seedless varieties - two white (Sweet Globe and Sugar Crisp) and two red ones (Sweet Celebration and Sweet Nectar). We will downsize the production of Italia grapes to the advantage to new seedless cultivars for a number of reasons. For example, they do not need expensive crop operations or agronomic interventions such as millerandage."
As for traditional grapes, expectations for Victoria and Black Magic are good in terms of volumes and Brix levels.
"Grapes are good with uniform and proportionate bunches. As known, Sicilian grapes from Mazzarrone are very popular due to their sweetness and high organoleptic properties, plus they boast the PGI mark. They are delicate fruits that need a lot of labor: harvesting and packaging is carried out by skilled personnel, considering that 90% of the production is packaged directly in the field to avoid over-handling"
“This is a very difficult period. It is very difficult to find labor, as many prefer the 'basic income' over a regular contract. It has even become difficult to perform thinning operations, considering it took 250 people with a cost of around €6,000/hectare for the manual thinning of grapes."
"Combined with the higher energy cost, these high production prices mean we will not be able to cover costs, both because the big retail chain will not recognize us higher prices proportionate to the costs, and because consumer families will find it more difficult to spend because of inflation. Nonetheless, we will take care of the higher costs ourselves (30% on average) and continue to work as best as we can as we wait for things to improve."
Il Galletto OP has always managed to maintain a fair quality/price ratio over the years. While investing a lot, the cooperative places on the market high-quality fruits at contained prices. The markets of reference are France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany.