Sicilian Blood Oranges: A Unique Citrus Product and What to Expect This Season

Written and Published by BMT Foods, November 16, 2023

Sicily is known for its delicious citrus fruit offerings. The country grows everything from lemons to oranges but is especially known for its exceptional blood orange crop. In Sicily, over four million tons of citrus fruits are grown each year, making it a global leader. The island’s Mediterranean climate and largely fair-weather patterns contribute to its unique status as a leading citrus exporter. Citrus fruit production and export makes up 10% of Sicily’s agricultural output, while the country exports as many as 35,000 tons of blood oranges each year.

Sicilian Blood Oranges: A Symbol of Sicily’s Agriculture and Economy

Sicily is famous for its blood oranges, which have an unmistakable deep red or maroon flesh. This unique color is due to anthocyanins, antioxidants that develop under specific climate conditions. These compounds provide numerous health benefits including a potential reduced risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. The vitamin C and fiber in Sicilian blood oranges also boosts immunity, which is convenient heading into winter.

There are two main varieties of Sicilian blood oranges: Tarocco and Moro. Tarocco blood oranges are renowned for their sweetness and juiciness, while Moro blood oranges are known for an intense color and complex flavor profile. Both varieties of Sicilian blood oranges grow in the rich and fertile volcanic soils of Mount Etna (an area known for unique wine varietals, too.)

Due to the unique flavor and appearance of Sicilian blood oranges, they are in high demand as a food and beverage ingredient. From juices and sorbets to cocktails, blood oranges add flavor.

What should we expect for the 2023-24 Sicilian Blood Orange crop?

Sicilian blood oranges are harvested in January and in April and May. Cultivation is ongoing, but we already have updates on this season. For the 2023-24 Sicilian blood orange season, it is expected that the crop will see an approximate 20% increase in fruit volume starting in January.

Additionally, we expect increasing demand for fresh fruit, while prices for blood oranges will continue to rise worldwide due to a lack of supply. So far, the growth in volume can be attributed to a good flowering that was not affected by recent hot weather. There is very little inventory in juice, which will drive prices for blood orange juice products higher. More updates will be available as we get closer to January 2024.

What is expected for other Sicilian citrus fruit products this year?

Sicily is also known for other citrus products. This year’s verdello lemon season has started, with a 90% decrease in fruit volume due to high temperatures. The blond orange crop, in high demand, has seen stable volumes and slightly higher prices over last season. Sicilian mandarin oranges have seen a 50% drop in fruit volume due to high temperatures.

At BMT Foods, we offer Sicilian blood orange juice NFC and Sicilian blood orange juice concentrate. Blood orange juice NFC is popular for brewing, soft drinks, and natural beverages, while blood orange juice concentrate is used in cocktails, vinaigrettes, and desserts. We stand ready to meet your blood orange juice needs. Please reach out to us today to learn more.