"The pandemic has caused undeniable difficulties, but it has also provided new stimuli and fed new ideas," explains Benjamin Laimer, marketing manager at Consorzio VIP, when talking about the apple segment during the era of Covid-19.
Apple harvesting operations have started a few days ago in Alto Adige and will require at least 7 thousand people when the season will reach its peak. "Labor is another problem and we are focusing a lot of attention on it. Laborers often come from Eastern European countries where they are being administered the Sputnik vaccine, which is still not valid to obtain a Green Pass in Italy. Then there is the problem concerning training, considering they speak different languages. This is why we have come up with a guide on apple harvesting that does not use any language, bur rather videos with symbols and charts that can be easily understood. Accommodation is another aspect that requires care and attention: we want laborers to find the best conditions so that they can come back to work in our orchards. The way we tackle challenges must always keep all factors into consideration."
Consorzio VIP was among the exhibitors of the collective stand curated by Assomela at Macfrut.
Those specializing in high-quality apple cultivation must take ongoing international dynamics into consideration. "We need to be realistic - things are increasingly articulated when it comes to competition. While, on the one hand, there are large producer countries such as Poland with which it is impossible to compete in terms of prices, on the other hand there are more and more operators producing club varieties, meaning brands multiply narrowing the market shares for each single actor."
Consorzio VIP's answer to this is putting consumers at the center and strengthening the dialog with the public starting already in stores. "This is because, despite foreign destinations such as Spain, Scandinavia, Germany, North Africa, Saudi Arabia and India, our main market remains Italy. What the pandemic and the lockdown have taught us is that we cannot do without the domestic market. This is why we consider in-store promotional activities of strategic importance - varietal innovation is nothing without consumers making an informed choice."
Benjamin Laimer mentioned the recent initiatives put in place by the consortium to make apples a product with a high content of customization that can intercept any possible individual preference. "Selling increasingly requires a tailor made approach. This is why we have decided to create a brochure for each single apple variety."
"Starting from the basic concepts of La Saporeria (different colors to express different apple aromas - see chart above), we have created booklets that illustrate all varieties in detail, including their genetic origin, harvesting period, growing conditions, appearance, internal values and a description of their aroma and flavor. If we consider apples can have 300 different aromas, we can see how there really is a lot to tell and we can help consumers find the perfect fruit for them!"