"At the moment we are cultivating tomatoes (bunch and Piccadilly), peppers, artichokes (Tema and Spinoso sardo) and courgettes. The market situation is disastrous, as there are 1.5-2 unsold tons that are going to be destroyed. Luckily, the summer campaign is ending. The prices we made don't even cover harvesting costs: we are talking about €0.10 net, but to produce tomatoes €0.40 are needed," explains Antonio Lo Giudice from the F.lli Lo Giudice company in Gela.

The family business is run by the two sons of the founders (Antonio, 23 and Maria, 22). It consists of 30 hectares, 40,000 sq m of which are protected cultivation (greenhouses and tunnels) where various types of tomatoes are cultivated.

The company cultivates a wide range of fruit and vegetables the whole year round. It has the GlobalGAP certification and it uses integrated control with useful insects. The produce is sold directly by the company.

The artichoke season starts in November and goes on at least until April. Tomatoes start in November and end in May-June. The courgette season goes from December to April. As regards summer products, canary yellow melons are available from June to July and the company will also supply Saturn peaches for the first time during that same period in 2014.

F.lli Lo Giudice mainly sells on the domestic market (general markets), with some experiences abroad (France, Germany and Romania). Packaging and transportation are part of the activities of the company.

Concerning the tomato situation, the entrepreneur explains that, at this time of year, the Netherlands are also producing tomatoes. "A bit of competition is expected, but we can't explain such low prices! The Netherlands are very competitive during summer, as they can supply produce homogeneously with good prices. We hope that, from November onwards and then with the next season, there will be more room to work in. Though if we have to consider these prices as an anticipation of what is to come, it will be a disaster."

The company also has two soil-less modules with pearlite and coconut fibre substrata - one for tomatoes (with two consecutive seasons) and the other for table grapes.

The sore point for F.lli Lo Giudice is water supply. "We have no water at the moment. We made great investments to collect rainwater and built a 1 hectare catchment that can hold up to 50,000 cubic metres and stores water from a land reclamation consortium, when they have it. At the moment they don't, so we can only hope that it rains soon."

Future perspectives
"Our objective is to reach consumers directly thanks to online sales and/or home delivery. We would like to be able to survive and enable consumers to buy local produce, thus creating a sort of short chain. We expect consumption to unlock and to reach high enough quotations to sustain us. Most of all, we want pricing to be clear without excessive mark ups. Finally, we hope in direct contacts between POs and retailers with no intermediaries, so we can have more bargaining power.

F.lli Lo Giudice does not use social networks nor it has a website. "We do believe they are useful to widen our customer base though, so we will definitely start working on a website and then we will shift our attention to social networks, as they could make us reach out to more people."

Antonio Lo Giudice
Società agricola semplice F.lli Lo Giudice

Gela (CL)
Tel./Fax: (+39) 0933 909401
Cell.: (+39) 345 3570552 / 337 955105
Email: societalogiudice@virgilio.it