Italy doesn’t exactly have a shortage of blood oranges. Griffith growers Redbelly Citrus know this, and were surprised when Italian beverage manufacturer Canditfrucht Spa placed an order for all of their remaining crop to be juiced and concentrated in October last year.
The specific variety of blood orange, called Moro, are grown primarily in Australia and prized for their deep flavour and rich anthocyanin content. They also happen to be excellent for producing blood orange juice concentrate, which makes up an enormous portion of the blood orange market.
A large number of Sicilian blood orange growers have been turning over their orchards to the Tarocco variety in recent years. The Tarocoo has a lighter pigment and in turn a lower anthocyanin content, so concentrate producers have had to look elsewhere.
“This could be a game changer for the Australian blood orange market as it indicates we can compete both overseas and domestically with the Sicilian product,” said Vito Mancini, director of Redbelly Citrus.
“Our goal was to grow blood oranges that were as good as those produced in Sicily. We would never have imagined that ten years on we’d be selling Sicilians our blood oranges.”
In December last year the first shipment of concentrated blood orange juice made from Redbelly’s Australian grown fruit landed safely on shores of southern Italy.