"The lettuce campaign is in full swing, especially when it comes to Iceberg lettuce, and we are witnessing high consumption and lively requests (around 100 tons a week). The reason might be the fact that consumers are increasingly looking for high-quality Italian certified products, the same requested by the fresh-cut industry. This campaign is going much better than last year, as demand has grown and our clients have doubled," reports Maria Pezone, a technician at Società Egiziaca.
"Product availability also increased last week, as temperatures have become milder and there is more daylight. As for quality, this is a good campaign as there is no sign of bremia thanks to both climate conditions and the fact we use resistant cultivars."
Società Egiziaca specializes in the production of Iceberg lettuce and other products part of the asteraceae family such as lettuce, escarole and lamb's lettuce destined to the fresh-cut industry but also suitable to be packed unwashed.
The company covers 140 hectares in total located in Giugliano in Campania, South Italy, 30 of which of greenhouses. Production covers 9 months and is made up of Italian Iceberg lettuce, traced, certified and grown using integrated cultivation techniques.
In October 2022, a zero residue line will also be available, destined to the Italian market for now. "We are getting ready to tackle this new project and are working on the specifications."
Not all lettuce types are for the fresh-cut industry, as part of Iceberg lettuce is destined to the packed unwashed industry for the free market.
"These lettuce heads are packaged in flow packs and then in crates (currently 10 heads per crate, with a weight of 600/700 grams). For this type, which will be available until May, we are looking to set up new collaborations."
"Feedback is good at the moment, although prices per kg have dropped over the past few weeks due to the abundant offer. Our higher availability in terms of yields per hectare enables us to have a good revenue anyway."
Società Egiziaca is ready for the summer season and has planned 20 hectares of cantaloupe melons, which will be harvested between May and July. They will be available in crates and bins and the company is looking to establish new relations. What is more, the company will also plant seedless mini-watermelons for the first time this year. Transplants will be made on 8 hectares in around fifteen days' time. Both cantaloupe melons and mini-watermelons are the result of integrated cultivation techniques.
"We believe it is necessary to involve consumers in the life of producer businesses by taking advantage of the social media, Instagram in particular (https://www.instagram.com/societaagricolaegiziaca/). Interesting new projects will be unveiled over the next few months."
As for the increase in the price of production inputs, Penzone comments that "should the situation remain unchanged, we will not be able to cover production costs, so we will have to reduce cultivated areas. I believe all companies are producing at a loss just to be able to be present on the market in the hope that things will improve over the next few weeks."