"The Italian almond production has reached a point of no return," reports Ignazio Vassallo, president of Associazione Siciliana Frutti in Guscio as he complains about the abundant presence of produce from California all over Europe.
"Thousands of producers from Sicily, Puglia and other regions are finding themselves at a crossroads: continue to keep groves alive while not even covering production costs or uproot decades of hard work, sacrifice and investments?
According to Vassallo, the crisis is due to a series of factors: "Just like for other sectors, Covid, the war and inflation contributed to generating a drop in consumption. The element that is destroying our almond cultivation is the aggressive commercialization carried out by Californian producers, which will end up destroying the entire Italian and European almond sector."
"The price policy of the produce coming from overseas will lead to a sort of global monopoly. We certainly do not have the strength - neither productive nor commercial - to counter a giant that bases its hegemony on volumes. We do believe we can win when it comes to the flavor and health of our almonds, which contain no aflatoxins or other harmful substances. Another argument is the environmental sustainability of our product, as it does not have to travel via cargo for long transfers, which in turn means lower CO2 emissions. What is more, considerably less water is used as Sicilian crops need only small amounts of water compared to American ones."
"The producer prices we have been registering in Italy or Spain do not even cover harvesting costs. While, up until a few years ago, almonds from Avola achieved €2.20/kg, today they do not go beyond €1.30/kg. The Tuono variety used to reach around €1.80/kg while now it only obtains €1.20/kg. That is why Italian almond cultivation is throwing in the towel. Of course globalization should not be stopped, but it should be governed. That is why the Italian agricultural world is appealing to the Ministry for Food Sovereignty, Europe, affected Regions and organizations to promptly adopt measures to prevent an entire economic sector (which also involves culture, tradition, landscape, high-quality patisserie, etc.) from disappearing. We are asking for more phytosanitary checks on the imported produce and a national campaign to convey a message regarding the health of our product."
For further information:
Associazione Siciliana della Frutta in Guscio
+39 336 401 734