The trade fair Fruit Attraction, in Madrid, has become the stage for the presentation of the new campaign of VI.P, Association of Horticultural Cooperatives of Val Venosta. More than 1,700 producers are members of one of the 7 cooperatives that make up this group, based in the Italian Alps. Its flagship product is the apple from Val Venosta, which has a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and is marketed in 50 international markets. Also, thanks to the Bio Val Venosta line, it is one of Europe's leaders when it comes to organic apple production.
They have more than 5,200 hectares of crops in the Venosta Valley, which in the last two seasons has suffered bad weather conditions that took a significant toll on the production volume. However, this campaign, VI.P has recovered its usual production levels and expects to obtain close to 315,000 tons of mountain apples.
The quality of the fruit this season is very good, despite the presence of russeting in the Golden and Pinova, which will have to be evaluated when the harvest is over. This summer's hot temperatures have resulted in significant temperature oscillations between day and night in the valley, allowing bicolor apples and the Golden Delicious to have a great coloring, with their characteristic reddish side. The calibers are large, to the taste of the Spanish consumer. And the texture is especially crunchy.
The first to reach the market are the traditional varieties Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Gala, along with the Kanzi® and Ambrosia™. Later others will arrive, like the Envy®, and little by little, the rest will also be delivered. The VI.P range consists of a total of 16 varieties, with classic ones coexisting with innovative products to make it possible to meet the different demands of modern consumers.
Varietal innovation has, in fact, been a key issue for the company in recent times. "We are constantly in touch with experimental centers around the world and we work together with the SK Südtirol variety consortium. Currently, we allocate about 3% of our volumes to Club varieties, but we are sure that that figure will continue to grow," said Fabio Zanesco, Commercial Director of the cooperatives association (in the picture above). He recalls launches such as that of the Yello® last season, and he also mentions the Natyra® and Bonita, which will hit the market in 2019. "We are investing in innovation and technology in order to differentiate ourselves, because the market is going through a difficult situation. There is a great oversupply, particularly in Poland, and many traditional varieties are becoming commodities, making it difficult to obtain good results. It is a time of changes and we must find the way to adapt," said the commercial director of VI.P.
This varietal innovation also affects the organic production, another area where the association aims to grow. BIO Val Venosta already accounts for 10% of the association's total acreage and will reach 20% in 2021. Moreover, one of the associated cooperatives, JUVAL, is about to complete the construction of a 100% biological automatic warehouse, which will become operative next season.
Another area where VI.P is developing is in marketing. The association devotes half of its production to the Italian market and the other half to exports, reaching about 50 destinations in areas like the north of Africa and the Middle East, the Scandinavian Countries or Germany. To this we must add that recently they have signed an agreement for a joint venture with the companies Rivoira and RK Growers in order to facilitate their entry into Asian countries.
As for Spain, the Iberian Peninsula represents approximately 10% of VI.P's foreign trade and the prospect for the 2018-19 season is to increase its presence in this market, overcoming the product shortage of the past two seasons.
Wholesale market actions, promotions for importers and draws at points of sale among the highlights of the Spanish campaign
This year, VI.P's communication campaign in Spain is going to focus on both the fruit's careful production process, carried out through integrated production, and on how these high quality apples are good for your health. "It is a philosophy very much in line with the expectations of a society that is increasingly aware of the benefits of healthy eating and responsible consumption," said Benjamin Laimer, Head of Marketing at VI.P.
The adverts will appear on print media and on television. There will also be informative materials and press actions this season, as well as plenty of activity on social media.
In order to strengthen its relationship with distributors and professionals selling fruit in Spain, VI.P has planned a series of actions. In November, it will be present in five national wholesale markets (Seville, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga) with an information corner, in which it will also be possible to win prizes. Also, from November to February, the importers working with VI.P will have the chance to retain their customers through a point accumulation and reward system. Moreover, in March, the products will be promoted through tastings in information booths set up in the main wholesale markets. In these, greengrocers will also be handed out the necessary materials to implement this promotion in their stores, giving consumers the chance to win several prizes.
In February, VI.P will once again celebrate the Day of the Greengrocer on the day of the patron saint of these professionals: Saint Dorotea. The event will receive institutional support.
Golden Gold awards presented to the most demanding greengrocers in the country
In line with its actions to look after its relationship with the sector, VI.P held the third edition of its Golden Gold Awards at Fruit Attraction. These awards are presented to the most demanding fruit stores in the country. More than 3,000 stores had registered through the website www.premiosgoldengold.com and a jury assessed all applications under criteria such as the fruit's selection, its presentation, the information supplied about the products or the treatment to their customers. The finalists were all visited by a mystery shopper.
The Golden Gold Award for Best Greengrocer was won by La Huerta de Chamartin, a store in the Chamartín market in Madrid, whose founding partners have more than 30 years of experience and are renowned for the quality of their products. The Golden Gold Award for Best Neighborhood Greengrocer was for La Frutería Castellón, a small store that started as a place to sell the harvest of small producers and which has developed over the generations, but without losing its connection with local producers. Both have received a prize and € 3,000 in horticultural products to boost their business.
The association also presented an Honorary Golden Gold Award to Fruit Attraction, which has celebrated its tenth edition these days, in recognition of its work to bring the fruit sector together and give it a boost to continue moving forward.