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Luca Granata (Melinda)

Italy: New apple varieties part of our supply in few years' time

The harvest of Melinda apples started at the end of August and will carry on until the end of October. In terms of volumes, the Consortium in Cles (Trentino Alto-Adige) expects to close with stable or slightly decreasing numbers (not worse than -5%) with respect to 2012. At the same time, the commitment towards varietal innovation and the availability of business partners abroad increases.

Luca Granata, general manager of the export oriented cooperative, explains that, "Scandinavian, North African and Middle Eastern countries are more and more interested in importing Melinda apples and volumes that are being shipped there are now surpassing those destined to traditional countries such as Germany or Eastern European countries."

"In perspective, the US could also become important for our exports but there are still many doubts and uncertainties," continues Granata.

The current tensions in the Mediterranean basin don't seem to worry that much though: "The political instability of Egypt in particular could partially reduce exports towards the country, but I don't think we will be particularly affected."

Melinda is now testing new apple varieties: "Some of these will definitely become part of our supply in a few years' time. We are also studying and evaluating some options to make apples more "user-friendly", so they can be eaten more easily. However, despite the fact that the objective is pretty clear, there are still many uncertainties as regards the way to make it all profitable."

In a certain sense, the project for the storing of apples in underground units dug in stone also has to do with innovation: "The IPOGEO research project envisages the creation of a first pilot plant with a 10,000 ton capacity, which is the step following storing tests carried out during an 18 month period in a small 120 ton experimental unit. All of the phases of this unique project have been and will continue to be carried out in collaboration with many Italian and foreign Universities and research bodies." 

As regards labour, there are no particular changes in the operators who harvest apples: despite the fact that economic crisis has pushed Italian people to accept jobs which were previously only done by foreigners, "we haven't noticed particular differences in those taking part to this phase: there are not many Italians, except for the relatives of fruit growers, and the majority of workers come from Eastern European countries such as Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and especially Romania."

In the meantime, Melinda, which is also interested in other products ("we are considering to start producing cherries and small fruits in some areas"), is being particularly selective in its choice of trade fairs, the number of which has grown in the past few years: as already happened in the past few years, the Val di Non Consortium will only take part to two events in the 2013-2014 season, i.e., Fruit Attraction in Madrid (October 2013) and Fruit Logistica in Berlin (February 2014).

Consorzio Melinda SCA
Via Trento 200/9
38023 Cles (TN) - Italy
Tel. +39 0463 671111
Fax +39 0463 671121

Autore: Mirko Aldinucci

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