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Italian citrus closes in on China access

Inspection of facilities in Sicily brings protocol nearer, with visit to kiwifruit packhouses set to streamline exports

Italian citrus closes in on China access

Employees of Oranfrizer harvesting oranges in Sicily

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Italy’s citrus exporters appear closer to securing a potentially lucrative place in the Chinese market following a recent fact-finding mission to the country by Chinese inspectors.

The inspectors concluded their five-day visit last week, during which time they visited cold-chain facilities used for citrus and kiwifruit in Sicily and Emilia-Romagna repsectively in order to establish the phytosanitary protocols necessary to grant access.

The visit was coordinated by marketing and research agency CSO Italy, with support from export promotion body ICE and the Italian government, as well as Italian embassy officials in Beijing.

It is expected to help push forward the compilation of a Chinese protocol for Italian citrus imports, most likely beginning with airflown shipments, as well as streamlining the existing protocol in place for kiwifruit.

Oranfrizer and Paimfuit, two Sicilian companies that stand to play a key role in exporting citrus – particularly red-fleshed varieties – to China, played host to the inspectors, accompanying them around their packing facilities.

In Emilia-Romagna, meanwhile, leading kiwifruit exporters Salvi Unacoa and Agrintesa opened their doors to the Chinese visitors, and discussed the potential for pre-clearance of fruit in Italy itself to allow it to be shipped by rail instead of by airfreight in future.

The visit concluded with a meeting in Rome at the Ministry of Agriculture with representatives of the National Phytosanitary Service.

“This mission for both kiwifruit and citrus to China is very important for the companies,” confirmed Simona Rubbi, new markets manager at CSO. “It also shows that it’s not enough just to conclude protocols, but in time also to improve conditions already in place.”

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