In the middle of the blood orange production campaign in Sicily, the European Art of Taste – Italian Fruit & Veg Masterpieces Project, co-funded by the European Union and CSO Italy, has carried out important communication activities offering Chinese journalists the opportunity see the product first-hand, precisely when at its peak in terms of flavour and fragrance.
In January, in collaboration with Oranfrizer, the first meeting of 2020 was held in Shanghai with agri-food sector journalists and bloggers; it focused on Italian blood oranges exported from Sicily to China.
Many questions were asked on the cheapest and quickest means of transport to exploit along the silk road and help speed up journey times for citrus fruits travelling from Italy to China, both by land and sea. There was also considerable interest in European Union quality standards for the top-quality produce exported to Asia.
During the exchange of information in Shanghai with the Chinese media, a growing interest emerged that is developing amongst consumers in new target markets regarding Made in Italy blood oranges.
In fact, the Tarocco and Moro varieties produced in Italy, in the Plain of Catania at the foot of Mount Etna volcano, boast distinctive characteristics and properties. Compared to those available locally, these fruits are recognised as unique in China for two main reasons: the tender flesh and the delightful bittersweet flavour, which is very special and very balanced on the palate and above all, very different to Chinese production, which is more bitter. As the Chinese journalists explained, the varieties of blood oranges grown in Sicily boast these unique properties compared to the pigmented varieties in China and these distinctive characteristics of Sicilian blood oranges are key, because they are inimitable and inextricably linked to the soil and climate conditions in which they ripen.
After the Shanghai event, the journalists interested in doing so were flown to Sicily by Oranfrizer, one of the companies co-funding the CSO Italy project.
The visit to discover the citrus orchards where the fruits that will be heading to China in 2020 will be harvested, gave journalists the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful sensory experience.
In fact, during the trip, participants enjoyed a first-hand experience of Sicily that they will be able to tell Chinese consumers about, at the same time gaining many notions that will help them give a true description of the territory of origin of the Italian agri-food treasures heading overseas, beyond European borders.
The incoming Chinese journalists will help to increase promote awareness of the Sicilian supply chain and the production context at the pioneering company, Oranfrizer. Similarly, the images and in-depth information on Tarocco and Moro blood oranges, Sicily and Mount Etna volcano will be diffused on traditional and digital media, targeting consumers, as well as the specialist agri-food press.
As the visiting journalists explained, “thanks to this trip, we were able to understand how much Etna and therefore, its territory, are key to blood orange production”. In fact, they clearly saw how the biodiversity and uniqueness of Sicilian blood oranges are generated by origin and extremely difficult to replicate.
In terms of awareness, significant results have been achieved to date in the European Art of Taste – Italian Fruit & Veg Masterpieces Project target countries, which as well as China, include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, thanks to the communication activities adopted, with an estimated over 3 million useful contacts through actions targeting the media alone.