If you know me and how much I strive to really get to know my distillers, you know along the way I've asked a million questions. Some I've even had the ability to get to know their entire family. While others, I conduct interviews and exchange emails with. Here I share an interview with my Italian Citrus distiller.
In this post, I'm sharing with you some questions and answers I received from my Italian citrus distiller. As most of you know, I was on a wait list initially to even work with him. When I finally had the opportunity, I jumped! As I've gotten to know him, I've found him to really be an artisan who not only cares about the product he produces, but someone who cares about industry standards and his local community.
Without further ado, here is a copy of the information I have from some questions asked:
Q: Describe how your business addresses the challenges of your production demands: sourcing raw materials, finding adequate labor, supporting your local economy, and any other issues you face?
A: "As for the production, we support the local economy by employing people who live close to the farm. Some of the employee have worked at the farm most of their life and now their children are also being employed. This helps the local economy but also it feels like the employers care to the lands as if they own it.
The challenge is to generate enough revenues to let the new generations to be also employed in the agricultural sector in their local economy preventing them to seek work elsewhere."
Q:How does your business address the challenges of the international market: shipping and logistical, regulatory, contracts, financial transactions?
A: "The challenge to develop the international market is to reach customers from all over the world with a high quality product. The international market for bergamot is dominated by a couple of large companies who offer essential oils of dubious quality at low prices.
The challenge is to let potential customers all over the world try essential oils of higher quality, produced in a sustainable way, but that come at higher price."
Q: What challenges, if any, do you face due to climate change or other environmental factors?
A: "This is a very important challenge: this last year the harvest has been scarce due to climate change. During spring time it was raining a lot and trees didn’t blossom as they should have.
Also, the very hot weather during autumn and winter is affecting negatively the nature.
The challenge for us is to continue not to use fertilizers or other chemicals to increase productivity.
We have noticed how bergamots from plantation where fertilizers are heavily used are changing in terms of quality and scents."
Q: What specific efforts have you made to make sure your high standards? Organic certification?
A: "Since 2000s, we do not use any fertilizers at the farm, not even the fertilizers permitted by our organic certifier. The result is that our trees look quite different from others, but definitely healthier and not as stressed.
We process the fruits when are half ripen so that our essential oil has a delicate scent.
We are certified organic and this demands keeping very high quality standards at all stages of essential oil production.
Also we have started the process to obtain the biodynamic certification."
Q: What are the most successful achievements you have made toward creating a sustainable business?
A: "In the last few years we have been able to strengthen the commitment in terms of labour from our local community. More people are employed in our farm from the neighbouring towns, especially during the harvest months.
At the same time we have reached a very high quality standard following a biodynamic farming methods so in perfect harmony with the nature.
Finally, we have a base of international customers, who highly appreciate our essential oil."
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit more about the distiller I use for the Italian citrus oils I provide. Until next time!