The Ambrosia apple from Italy is performing extremely well in Europe and the volume is increasing every year. For the past three years, RK Growers has been exploring new export opportunities with this sweet apple variety in the overseas markets. In 2018, RK Growers joined forces with industry heavyweight VI.P Val Venosta under the newly created joint venture “Omnifresh”, which focuses on supplying premium quality Italian apples to the Asian markets.
The joint venture represents a supply capability of over 400,000 Tonnes of premium Italian apples, equivalent to over 20% of the total production of apples in Italy. Mr. Kevin Au Yeung, Asia Market Manager for RK Growers and Omnifresh stated their plans to open new markets for their premium Italian apples this coming season. He is optimistic regarding the growth the company can achieve in the Asian markets, especially with the Ambrosia variety.
Photo: Italian Grown Ambrosia Apple
“In June 2019, we as Omnifresh, participated in a special program organized by the major Italian apple producers and funded by the European Union with the aim of promoting high-quality apples from the Italian Alps in selected Asian markets. The leading fruit producers from Italy were invited to introduce their products to importers, distributors, consumers, and governments in Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. Overall, the presentations of the program have been very successful and impressive, and different activities are foreseen for the next 3 years. The events were well organized, giving us the possibility to introduce our premium Italian apples to businesses, consumers and government officials in this part of the world.”
Photo: Mr. Kevin Au Yeung from RK Growers Srl / Omnifresh attending the European apple June promotional event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Malaysia Market Is Price Sensitive With Potential In the Mid To High-End Market”
Omnifresh already has supplied the Malaysian market since last year, but Mr. Kevin Au Yeung mentioned consumers are still not too familiar with Italian apples, “We introduced our apples during the meeting in June this year and received very positive feedback from Malaysian importers and distributors. For now, Malaysia mostly imports apples from countries like the US and South Africa, but with Ambrosia and other premium-quality Italian apples, we could capture a larger market share. In order to succeed, we will need to work very closely with our clients to devise plans to promote the Italian apples, enabling more consumers to recognize the high standard that Italian apples hold. With that said, the Malaysia market is still very price-sensitive, so in this case, we will focus more resources in the mid to high-end market segment.”
Photo: European Apples promotional event in Kuala Lumpur in June
“Vietnam Market is Interested in New Varieties”
Visiting these countries gave us new insights into the specific requirements and needs of each country, and what Italy can offer to satisfy that need. Currently, not all countries we've visited have protocols for importing Italian apples, but with these visits, we hope it will increase the speed of obtaining market access.
Photo: EU apple July promotional event in Hanoi, Vietnam
“According to the protocol just signed with the Vietnamese authorities, the first Italian apples will be able to reach the country, hopefully by 2020. During our last trip, when we introduced the Italian apples to the Vietnamese audience, they were very enthusiastic. The Vietnamese consumers prefer very sweet and aesthetically pleasing apples, they are especially attracted to sweet club varieties like Ambrosia.
Furthermore, the apple production in Vietnam is very low, so this market relies heavily on importing apples from countries like the US, France and New Zealand. This makes us believe that the potential for Italian apples, especially Ambrosia will do well in the Vietnamese market.” says Mr. Kevin Au Yeung.
Photo: (from left to right) Mr. Giacomo Nocentino (RK Growers Srl / Omnifresh), Mr. Kevin Au Yeung (RK Growers Srl / Omnifresh), and Mr. Fabio Zanesco (V.IP Val Venosta / Omnifresh) market visit in Hanoi
“Italian Apple Gains Access to Taiwan Market”
“Taiwan has just finalized the import protocol with the Italian Government. The protocol is already signed, but there will be one more visit from the Taiwanese Phytosanitary official to conduct a final inspection in Italy to officially validate the import protocol for Italian apples. This is to ensure that the apples shipped to Taiwan meet all the phytosanitary requirements and standards set forth by the Taiwan government.”
Mr. Kevin Au Yeung points out that the Taiwanese market has great potential but considering the specific nature of this market, he said, “Taiwan imported over 160 000 tons of apple last year, and 80-90% were Fuji apples. The remaining 10% to 20% consist of all the other apple varieties. This means we will have to work harder to capture the attention of this market, but with a great tasting sweet apple like Ambrosia, with the right marketing plan, and a good distributor, we believe we will do well in the Taiwan market.”
Photo: (from left to right) Mr. Fabio Zanesco (V.IP Val Venosta / Omnifresh – Sales and Marketing Director), Mr. Giacomo Nocentino (RK Growers Srl / Omnifresh – International Sales Manager), Mr. Paolo Carissimo (RK Growers Srl / Omnifresh – Managing Director), Mr. Kevin Au Yeung (RK Growers Srl / Omnifresh – Asia Market Manager) at the launch of Omnifresh joint venture at Asia Fruit Logistica in 2018.
RK Growers and Omnifresh will be exhibiting at the upcoming Asia Fruit Logistica and we look forward to meeting all who are interested to learn more about our apples, kiwis, grapes, berries, citrus, pears and stonefruit, at our booths in HALL 3 – F20 (RK Growers) and HALL 3 – J08 (VIP Val Venosta).