Elevating quality in citrus processing – article

The sun-drenched orchards of Sicily are home to Campisi Citrus, where tradition, innovation and transparency meet to create pristine, high quality Sicilian citrus products.

June 26, 2024

6 Min Read
Elevating quality in citrus processing

Imagine the sun-drenched orchards of Sicily, where the timeless tradition of hand-picking citrus fruits continues as it has for generations. In these fields, skilled hands carefully select each citrus fruit, honoring a practice that ensures only the finest fruits make their way to your table. The journey of these citrus gems is just as meticulous and thoughtful. Placed gently into plastic crates, the fruits are transported a short distance to the nearby factory, preserving the organoleptic properties of their vibrant peels. This careful handling maintains the high quality of essential oils extracted from the citrus peels, and immediately after harvesting, the fruits are swiftly processed, packaged and distributed, ensuring that their freshness and fragrance are perfectly preserved.

This attention to freshness and quality is a cornerstone of business at Campisi Citrus, a subsidiary of OPAC Campisi, a European leader in the production of citrus fruits and vegetables. “Our citrus fruits are renowned for their premium quality,” says Barbara Campisi, Co-Owner and Legal Representative of Campisi Citrus. “The PGI varieties we work with offer unmatched organoleptic qualities, like taste, smell, sight and touch.”

Yet at Campisi Citrus, a fourth-generation family-founded company, they also understand that appreciation of this quality comes from providing the type of seed to shelf transparency that consumers seek today. In a recent Transparency Trends 2023 report produced by NIQ and The Food Industry Association (FMI), the proportion of shoppers saying transparency is important has increased from 69% in 2018 to 72% in 2021 to 76% in 2023. And, according to a study conducted by branding and insights agency, Pure Branding, 72% of consumers agree that greater transparency from a company leads to higher perceived efficacy of its products.

Complete Supply Chain Ownership

Campisi Citrus is a leading entity in the agricultural sector, renowned for its wide variety of citrus products, which include freshly squeezed and immediately frozen organic citrus juices, pure essential oils extracted from citrus fruits, various shapes and dimensions of citrus fruits frozen to preserve freshness, citrus zests for culinary and industrial use and citrus pulp and cells for diverse applications.

The company works with a vast variety of fruit, coming exclusively from its lands, like the Siracusa Femminello PGI Lemon, Blood and Clementine Oranges, Ciaculli Tangerine and Bergamot. Its fruit products are free from water, sugar/salt, additives, lactose, proteins, gluten, GMOs and pesticides, and they are all 100% vegan. They are also paired with different packaging solutions—all of which are recyclable.

Sicilian citrus fruits are celebrated worldwide for their exceptional quality, and Campisi Citrus leverages this reputation by focusing on Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) varieties. The Siracusa Femminello Lemon and the Sicilian Blood Orange are prime examples of the unmatched organoleptic qualities these fruits possess compared to other varieties globally.

Driven by the passion of the company’s third-generation, brothers Giuseppe and Dario Campisi, Campisi Citrus is the latest addition to the family’s group of companies. Now driven by the company’s fourth generation, Giuseppe’s two sons and Dario’s two daughters, the business continues to flourish by combining tradition and innovation. The decision to be vertically integrated and own every step of the supply chain from the certified plant nursery to production and packaging gives Campisi Citrus the ability to monitor and maintain the origin and quality of all processed products, ensuring customers receive only the best.

"Having the support of a closed supply chain allows us to maintain the local premium quality and full traceability unchanged, and full traceability is a guarantee for the clients who prioritize organic, as we know the origin of all processed products," explains Campisi.

The citrus fruits used by Campisi Citrus are hand-picked daily from fields owned by the family group. These fruits are then transported to OPAC, the fresh packing unit, and to Campisi Citrus' processing site. This is all done within 1-2 days. This swift cycle from picking to processing, combined with the short distance from the fields to the factory, results in superior quality and higher yield of processed products.

Innovation, Integrity & Sustainability

To back their freshness and quality, Campisi Citrus abides by nine certifications: Organic, International Food Standard (IFS), Brand Reputation Compliance (BRC), Food Safety System Certification (FSSC 22000), GLOBAL GAP and GRASP, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS), Halal and Kosher. The company is also a member of the European Federation of Essential Oils (EFEO) and the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades (IFEAT). In addition, Campisi Citrus follows strict guidelines to ensure quality, including pesticide analysis at three stages of the production cycle and conducting multiple quality checks carried out by the Lab Manager on final products. These checks and balances not only preserve the purity of the brand’s citrus fruits but also strengthen trust with Campisi Citrus’s global clientele.

Within the vertical supply chain, sustainability also serves as a cornerstone of operations. The company adheres to rigorous guidelines and ethical practices to protect the environment, including water management, renewable energy through solar panels and the protection of local flora and fauna.

"Organic is just one of the fundamental points driving the group’s focus on sustainability. Having rigorous guidelines and ethical practices towards our environment, such as water management, renewable energy through solar panels, local flora and fauna protection, make up for the set of actions with sustainability at its core," says Campisi.

Customer Feedback and Future Forward

Over the past five years, Campisi Citrus has experienced exponential growth, with clients from around the world increasingly appreciating their top-notch products. By choosing to operate within a closed supply chain, Campisi Citrus has prioritized quality over quantity. This approach allows the company to specialize in niche, top-quality products, even if it means not being able to satisfy the entire market demand.

Customer feedback plays a crucial role in the growth and innovation of Campisi Citrus. Positive feedback encourages the company to maintain high standards, while constructive criticism provides opportunities for improvement.

"When clients compliment us on the quality of our products, it means that we must maintain the same standards that led to the production of those items. Constructive criticism is equally, if not more important to receive, as it allows us to improve and innovate on the current methods. Clients may come up with requests for new products that could be easily introduced to our current portfolio, by adjusting the current machinery and technology. This was the case for the frozen fruit parts, i.e., slices and wedges," explains Campisi.

Now, to meet rising demand and enter new markets, the company is expanding its processing site, introducing new extraction machinery and improving technology.

“Customers ask for more all the time. We are expanding on a new processing site, which will come with more and newer extraction machineries, improved technology and increased volume capacity. This five-year investment plan will allow us to strengthen our worldwide presence and enter new markets," reveals Campisi.

Yet, even with expansion, the company will still have an eye for quality and transparency, making sure that growth doesn’t hinder its legacy of excellence and sustainable, high-quality citrus processing.

"Our supply is limited to the amount of hectares and fruits currently cultivated. Although we own and/or manage a big portion of land, around 750 hectares, we cannot satisfy the entire Sicilian citrus market and its demands. This means that we will continue to specialize in niche, top-quality products, maintaining our core values and quantity availabilities," explains Campisi.

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