Above: the group of small Sicilian producers who have reported the low prices
Everything seemed to go well before the festive period with the exception of cucumbers, whose prices remained low throughout the season. Tomato prices remained high, especially the smaller ones which exceeded €2/kg. But a few distinctions need to be made...
In the photo above: cucumbers paid €0.20/kg, below production costs.
Small producers can't take it anymore
"We can't go on like this. Crops can cost up to €5 per square metre and, if cucumbers sell at €0.20, we make €1.50 per square metre with a loss of €3.50. Prices for films, plantlets and everything else continue to soar, adding to the taxes we need to pay," explains Rosario Rinaudo.
Dark green courgettes and aubergines have also dropped to €0.20/kg for good quality but haven't exceeded €0.60/kg for extra quality (courgettes). The reasons behind these sudden changes are varied and definitely have to deal with the structural crisis within the sector, starting with the high production costs.
The lack of organisation among small producers is definitely one of the reasons, but essentially it is the harsh law of the market that prevails.
Above: supermarket prices in the Ragusa province. Photo taken on 13/01/2018
Another reason is the weather: prices are higher when it's colder but, unfortunately, temperatures haven't been very low so far. In addition, there is quite a lot of produce available.
Above: prices in another supermarket in the Ragusa province. Photo taken on 13/01/2018
Analyses don't solve the problem
"We know what drives prices down, but knowing it doesn't solve our problems, especially for people like me who focus on cucurbits. It's even harder when we see the gap between production and supermarket prices - it's unfair to us as well as to final consumers."
Above: prices in a supermarket in the Ragusa province. Photo taken on 13/01/2018
The situation was actually the opposite one year ago: dark green courgettes sold at over €4/kg.