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VI.P organic producer organization Vinschgau:

‘We want to be Europe's leading supplier of organic apples’

It was a bad year for apple producers in Europe. In the organic sector, the producer organization VI.P Vinschgau also faces considerable losses. As the sale of the 2017 harvest will be completed by April at the latest, the VI.P Bio Vinschgau is already looking ahead. "We are already taking the first steps with regard to the marketing of the 2018 harvest," reports sales manager Gerhard Eberhöfer. “In 2018, we expect a biomass of more than 30,000 tonnes, and we expect to bring 40,000 tonnes of organic apples to market within two years at the latest.”

Mr. Gerhard Eberhöfer shows the organic apples from the Vinschgau region

In the organic sector, the current market situation is anything but optimal, says the sales manager. Because of losses of about 35 percent, the first varieties -such as Gala- were already sold out in January. Other varieties such as Pinova and Braeburn can be offered until about mid-March. Due to the scarce supply of goods, prices are significantly higher than in the previous year. “This season we are indeed dealing with very high prices in the organic sector. On average, prices are about 20-30 percent higher than last year,” says Eberhöfer. Although the average price per kilo in the food retailing this year is at 3.99 kilos, there is no talk of any slump in consumption at present. According to the marketer, this also has to do with the considerable price increases in the conventional sector.

Organic apples: on the left the Bonita variety

Complete package
Despite the current difficulties, it can be said that organic apples are clearly on the rise. In the last few years, the total acreage for organic apples in the Vinschgau region has increased significantly. About 17.5% of the fruit trees in Vinschgau are already grown organically. One third of the total volume is marketed in Italy and one third in Scandinavia. Of the remaining supply of goods, between 16 and 20 percent are brought to the German market. The optimal climatic conditions, as well as the professionalism of the organic farmers are probably the two most important reasons that in the Vinschgau apple orchard, organic apples of the highest quality can be produced. Eberhöfer: "We offer the complete package with outstanding quality and product safety, appropriate packaging capacity and continuity in the supply of goods."

“After the first producers switched to organic production at the end of the 1970s, total yields rose steadily. Within the last 17 years, production has increased tenfold; from 3,000 tons to 30,000 tons annual production. In recent years or years to come, new varieties will also be launched in the organic area of Vinschgau. Club variety Ambrosia for example; a sweet apple, which is marketed from late October to late December. Another species that we have recently started is Bonita. Bonita is very interesting as a scion-resistant variety in cultivation. The taste is sour and the sales will be mainly aimed at Germany and Northern Europe.”

At the booth at the BioFach in Nuremberg

Complete traceability
Everyone is waiting for a further increase in sales volumes of organic apples, including the food retail trade. The visibility of the fruit is the most important factor in attracting the consumer even more. Visibility means exposure and correct positioning of organic products. When promoting organic apples from Val Venosta, the VI.P cooperative attaches great importance to regionality and sustainability of the product. Eberhöfer: “Another great thing that sets us apart from many others is our ‘Project Biography’. Due to the complete traceability we can give the name of the producer on the individual packaging.”

On the website, the consumer can then learn more about that producer, whose apples he has just bought, says Eberhöfer. “Here you will find interesting and exciting facts about the individual farmer, his farmstead and its history, varieties and other interesting tidbits, but above all: great pictures and emotions. We don’t mind the extra effort for our customers and consumers. And we keep in mind our ambitious goal: to remain the 'Number 1 supplier of organic apples in Europe’.”

For more information:
Erzeugerorganisation VI.P Vinschgau
Gerhard Eberhöfer - Abteilungsleiter Bio
Hauptstrasse 1/C
39021 Latsch
Südtirol - Italien
Tel +39 0473 723 300
Fax +39 0473 723 400

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