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Val Venosta Apples: the Italian market, our main market

"We are now entering the central part of a very particular sales season, which we hadn't seen in a decade. We work with the utmost attention and adjust our planning daily to meet the demands of our clients and guarantee the supplies of our apples," says Fabio Zanesco (pictured), sales manager of VI.P.

Due to frost and hail in spring and summer 2017 we registered losses of 35% compared to an average year and losses of 20% compared to the already reduced 2016 harvest. "In this situation we were thus forced to start the commercialization of our apples slowly during the first months of the sales season despite a very dynamic market all around Europe."

The months of November and December were very good for all varieties with continued demand and excellent prices. "Due to the lack of Italian apples the Italian market was, of course, our main market and we consequently had to limit and select foreign markets by focusing on strategic European clients and just a few overseas markets."

"After the festivities the market proved to be very dynamic in January so that we could further increase our prices and stick to our reduction plan, as we guaranteed supplies for Golden until the beginning of summer to our main Italian clients who we have always supplied in the past. As far as the other traditional varieties are concerned, we are perfectly in line with our planning: we are currently organizing the end of the sales season for Gala in about a month. Red Delicious will be available until May and we have just started the sales season for Pinova to cover the demand during the spring months."

The club varieties had an excellent development right from the beginning. "We have already planned the final part of the sales season due to reduced quantities. We expect to end the sales of Envy™ at the end of the month, those of Ambrosia within the next two weeks and those of Kanzi® in April. As far as Yello™ is concerned, we made commercial tests with reduced volumes in December/January and got an excellent feedback."

"In the second part of the sales season, we will thus continue the work done so far knowing that the European market will also leave room for imports from the southern hemisphere that progressively decreased during the last years. We will see how the different European markets develop. We expect room for further price increases, but we will concentrate on the management of our apples in stock and on guaranteeing the deliveries agreed with our clients during the next months."

As for Val Venosta's organic production, losses of about 35% in comparison with a normal year are recorded. The consequence for VI.P is a much earlier end of the season than normal. The 2017/2018 sales season will thus already end between the end of March and the end of April, the earliest end of the season for years. In Val Venosta organic producers and new organic production areas will increase by about 20% during the next years, "which will enable us to supply the European market with organic apples of excellent quality for 12 months a year". The percentage of 2nd class apples is higher than usual.

The future lies in varietal innovation and a constant strive for the best quality
In recent years, Val Venosta Apples have invested heavily into research and the introduction of new varieties. In short, Val Venosta Apples are “modernizing” or better developing their varietal assortment. "Thanks to our constant contact to test centers all around the world we work hard on the individuation of varieties that can satisfy the taste needs of the new consumers together with the SK Südtirol Variety Innovation Center" explains Josef Wielander, General Director of VI.P.

"We are looking for new varieties that can be cultivated in our valley between 500 and 1000 meters of altitude and that are resistant to the most common plant diseases," states Wielander. Taste, appearance and a sustainable production are decisive elements for varietal renovation. Another important element is quality, which is fundamental in Val Venosta Apples' quality cycle. "Five of VI.P's six member cooperatives will have automatic high shelf stores of the highest technological level for the automation of processes within 2019."

The high quality of an apple is reflected in an environmentally friendly production. This means that Val Venosta apples want to focus even more on their principle of naturalness represented by the red ladybird in the logo. 2017 and 2018 sees the start of two long-term projects for the protection of agricultural biodiversity and environmental sustainability:

1. Project of voluntary renunciation of herbicides: Every producer who renounces the use of herbicides in his apple orchard gets an additional contribution.
2. Sustainability report for fruit production in South Tyrol: In collaboration with the FIBL research institution for organic agriculture and the Terra Institute in Bressanone Val Venosta Apples participate in the Sustainability Report for South Tyrol Apples that aims at giving concrete answers and elaborating long-term strategies for the regionality and traceability of integrated and organic production. Because research and the implementation of necessary changes are the only ways to become a model company in the fruit-growing sector.

Marketing e Communication
Val Venosta Apples have chosen the concept of friendship for their current communication campaign. "For 2018," says Benjamin Laimer, Marketing Coordinator of Val Venosta Apples, "we tried to uniformly convey the concept of friendship in all our marketing, communication and promotion activities. It’s all about true friendship based on the values of honesty, trust and passion."

From the beginning of February our new spot entitled “Friendship” of 12 seconds is online in the main social networks. You can also see this spot with the claim "We cultivate our apples like a friendship" on www.vip.coop/amicizia."

Val Venosta Apples' new website is always online from the beginning of February. It is easy, essential and aimed at a consumer driven by emotion. The two ladybirds accompany the consumer to discover emotional contents based on pictures and videos that show you the world of the apple in an informative and entertaining way.

"vip.coop is ideal to discover the quality and naturalness of Val Venosta Apples and addresses an audience who is attentive and sensitive to the themes of environmental sustainability. In this context," concludes Laimer, "we also introduced a detailed organic section where we integrated BioGraphy, a multimedia project where our organic producers explain you the excellence of organic production in Val Venosta."

"Italy sees the start of an important initiative on 1 March: It’s a prize competition called "Friendship will be rewarded!" that lasts until 30 April 2018," affirms Laimer. "Here we managed to unite both the consumer and greengrocer as integral parts of the communication strategy of Val Venosta Apples, as they both actively participate in the prize competition. How? By voting for his trusted greengrocer the consumer can daily win many instant prizes and take part in the main prize draw: a fantastic Smart electric drive. At the same time, the greengrocer with most votes will win a legendary Fiat Doblò."

There is also a novelty for children: the ladybirds of Val Venosta Apples have found new friends in the Disney characters of Cars3 and Frozen. Thanks to the co-branding with Disney Italia Val Venosta Apples developed a special pack available in the points of sale from mid-February. It combines entertainment with the two varieties Pinova and Gala: Inside every Disney-Val Venosta flow pack with 4 apples of small size, you will find 2 stickers of the characters of Cars3 and Frozen that you can all collect on the poster available for download on the new website www.vip.coop/Disney.

Publication date: 2/13/2018


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