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Avola almond, the role of the protection Consortium

The Avola Almond is a traditional Italian agri-food product (PAT), still exposed to the risk of counterfeiting and food fraud which its protection Consortium is committed to combating with innovative technologies. Here's how and why.

1) Cultivation of almond trees in Sicily

Sicily it is the first Italian region in the cultivation of almonds, covering approximately 80.000 hectares and producing an average of 15.000 tonnes/year. The almond tree thrives in the Mediterranean climate, requiring little processing and agricultural inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, water). As well as giving landscapes a colorful spectacle, with its early flowering. (1)

Collection of almonds occurs between August and September. And it is followed by a series of processes - shelling, selection, roasting, peeling, natural conservation - aimed at obtaining the productsready-to-eat'. These processes require particular attention, to prevent the formation of aflatoxins and guarantee the safety, as well as the quality of the almonds. (2)

2) Avola almond

The microclimate characteristic of the production area - in south-eastern Sicily, in the province of Syracuse (Italy) - and traditional agronomic practices give the Avola almond distinctive organoleptic qualities.

The shape oval and elongated, the hard shell, the sweet and aromatic seed, the higher protein and oil content of the Avola almond are characteristic of the three cultivars selected for their production:

– Pizzuta, the most sought after for quality and flavour,

– Fascionello, more productive and suitable for confectionery,

– Roman, late and resilient. (3)

3) Traditional and modern uses

The pastry traditional Sicilian tradition sees the Avola Almond as the protagonist in a variety of delicacies. Almond milk, Sicilian granita, biscuits, nougat, cassata, marzipan, pudding, martorana pasta, etc. (4)

Almonds they are increasingly appreciated as they are - even in the single-dose packages available in bars and 'vending machines' - as natural, healthy and vegan snacks, 'ready-to-eat', even better if organic and from guaranteed supply chains.

4) Market context

The competition on prices – exacerbated by environmental dumping, as seen in the case of California (5) – is ruthless. And distributors often overlook consumers' ability to recognize the different value of quality almonds.

Food fraud and counterfeits are also widespread, unfortunately even in Italy. As our GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade) website, alongside the Avola Almond Protection Consortium, has repeatedly reported (6,7). Market surveillance is therefore essential.

5) The role of the Protection Consortium

The protection consortium of the Avola Almond (Prunus amygdalus) has a fundamental role in the rediscovery, guarantee of authenticity and valorization of this traditional high quality product. Also through research and innovation activities:

– the collaboration with the Department of Arboriculture of the University of Catania and a startup has allowed the genomic identification of the Avola almond and intercept fraud through DNA analysis,

– the NUTRIMAN project, in Horizon 2020, has made it possible to develop sustainable agronomic practices, aimed at preserving biodiversity and reducing the environmental impact of fertilization,

– the DEDiCa study, carried out by the National Cancer Institute, considered the role of almonds in the Mediterranean diet and its influence on the recurrence of breast cancer.

6) Perspectives

Values of the Avola Almond - as well as those of the Green Pistachio of Bronte PDO (8) - are not limited to the organoleptic qualities that distinguish these products from many others.

In both cases we have regard to exclusive productions – for the uniqueness but also the territorial delimitation of the areas – rooted in wonderful terroirs and centuries-old traditions, which involve hundreds of farmers and family agricultural businesses.

The uniqueness of these extraordinary fruits could be guaranteed to operators and consumers on the planet through a solid blockchain platform, such as Wiise Chain, following the example of the Italian peanut of the sector leader Noberasco. (9)

Dario Dongo and Gabriele Sapienza

Footnotes

(1) Consortium for the protection and improvement of the Avola almond supply chain https://tinyurl.com/mvfu7jmm

(2) Dario Dongo, Marta Singed. RASFF 2022, EU food safety report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(3) Almond from Avola. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(4) GIFT. almonds. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 25.9.16,

(5) Dario Dongo, Corrado Bellia. Sicilian almonds vs Californian almonds, an ocean of differences. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(6) Dario Dongo, Marta Singed. Almond of Avola, DNA analysis reveals two maxi-frauds on sugared almonds. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(7) Dario Dongo, Eurospin, fraud on the Avola almond branded 'Le Nostre Stelle'? GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.2.20

(8) Dario Dongo, Gabriele Sapienza. Bronte DOP green pistachio, a Sicilian treasure. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(9) Dario Dongo, Gianluca Mascellino. Public blockchain, Noberasco at the start with Wiise Chain. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

Trainee Assistant Researcher | Website URL | + posts

Graduated in Agriculture, with experience in sustainable agriculture and permaculture, laboratory and ecological monitoring.

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