New variety and promising alternative markets for VOG
VOG is one of the main growers and marketers of apples in North Italy. Met during Fruit Logistica, Mr Gerhard Dichgans - Director of VOG – shares with Fructidor.com his analysis on the apple market. He also explains the reason for the launch of the new apple « yello® » and the development of export sales.
Fructidor : How is the apple market doing this season ?
Mr Dichgans : « As for the market trends, we can see the decline of some important export markets which we have serve in the last seasons. I refer primarily to the area of Maghreban Egypt, which were important destinations for our Golden and Red Delicious apples.
« Second trend : innovation is advancing faster, and we see more new varieties on the shelves.of supermarktes. But, we have to pay attention, more and more red and bi-colors « new entries » are competing in an overcrowded marketplace.. During last Interpoma show, there were not less than 50 new varieties in this segment. For me, this is completely insane, and behind many new varieties there are no robust marketing strategies to achieve success. « For VOG, crop levels and sales have been good. The Consortium's 2016 crop totalled out at 627,000 tonnes of table apples, +2% compared to the previous season's crop. Results for the individual varieties differed : After a weak crop 2015, there were good increases for all the Club apples, almost reaching full crop levels, as in the case of Cripps Pink.
Fructidor : VOG is launching a new variety in the yellow apple segment, called yello®. Why such a development ?
Mr Dichgans : “Varietal innovation is one of the aspects that the apple industry has to focus on. We engage in continual research and are aware of consumers demands. With yello® we have identified a great apple in the yellow segment, and we want to write a new chapter also in the markets in which the Golden Delicious has historically not that importance, such as in the UK and Germany.”
“This program is the result of an agreement with the the Prefecture of Nagano(Japan). The variety marketed under the yello® brand is called Shinano Gold and was developed in Japan by crossing Golden Delicious and Senshu. The exclusive production and marketing licence for Europe and the Mediterranean basin now belongs to VOG, the Association of South Tyrolean Fruit Growers’ Cooperatives, and VI.P, the Association of Val Venosta Fruit Growers’ Cooperatives.”
« We believe in « yello® » for its very modern taste, it’s like a sweet Fuji, but much crunchier and a light exotic taste. « yello®» has a bright yellow skin, a firm consistency and is juicy, with a long shelf-life. »
« This season, we have marketed 50 tons of yello® on the italian market.Customers have given a very positive answer. Tests have also been realised in Germany and Scandinavian countries with positive feed-back. »
« Following these positive market tests, we have ordered plants to increase our production. During springs 2017 & 2018, a total of 150.000 trees will be planted. As a consequence, tonnage should increase after 2018. »
The « envy™ » for premium market will triple its sales next season.
Mr Dichgans : « On the Premium segment, we are satisfied with development of « envy™ ». We have marketed 1.500 tons of « envy™ ». We are now building sales plan for this variety with wholesalers and supermarkets in Italy. This is the result of a common project with Turner & Growers (NZ), who is the owner of the variety and the brand, and sells « envy™ ». in UK und Continental Europe. Next season, we will have 3.000 tons of « envy™ » for sale. »
Concerns on North African markets…
Fructidor : « What are your developments on the italian market ? »
Mr. Dichgans : « On Italian market, Golden variety still represents 50% of the consumption. But the offer for Golden variety is crowded. To keep an equilbre, we need other markets as Maghreb, Egypt, Gulf countries…
« Without these markets, the market is not stable and prices under pressure. The last two seasons have been difficult, and this season seems to repeat the same pattern. « At VOG, we are satisfied to have taken the right strategic decision at the end of the 90’s for varietal diversification. We have diversified our varieties before the crisis and before our competitors. »
« For VOG today, the Golden variety represent 22% of our surfaces and 25% of our volumes. These figures prove how good has been our plan for varietal diversification in the last 20 years. This brings a huge credibility to VOG strategy. »
“On the export sides,we have some concerns in regards with North African markets, which during the last few years have gradually become strategic for Italian apples.”
“In Libya and Algeria the market has virtually shut down due to a massive devaluation of the local currency. Egypt, the outstanding partner for Italian fruit and South Tyrolean apples until summer 2016, no longer has the financial resources to pay for imported goods, which have become too expensive.
In the meantime, alternative markets had opened up: exports to the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula were proceeding apace. Trends in sales to Spain and, surprisingly, exports to South America and India are good.”
“We are confident with regard to the rest of the sales season. Even in the second half of the season, customers continue to prefer European produce. This is at the expense of imports from the southern hemisphere, which have been losing large shares of the European market for the last five years. And this year, given the quality of its offering, South Tyrol is well placed to take advantage of this trend.”
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