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Italy: Interpoma is underway
After the welcome speech by Georg Kössler, chairman of the Consorzio Mela Alto Adige, the convention was opened by Hans Berger, councillor for Agriculture of the autonomous province of Bolzano.
The first speaker, Desmond O’Rourke, presented the Apple World Report 2012: global trends in apple production, marketing and consumption. The data presented shows that the consumption of apples between 2000 and 2010 has dropped worldwide, but in particular in Europe, where elderly consumers tend to prefer other fruits such as mango, papaya and pineapple, while younger ones are reluctant to eat apples.
“The market has to reckon with the recession which has hit industrialised countries and with the consequent drop in the population due to a standstill in the birth rate and a reduction in immigration” added O’Rourke. Economic power is moving from West to East, but according to analysts, with an eye to the future, the economy of BRICS countries does not offer the guarantees hoped for until recently”.
The production of apples is also increasingly moving towards intensive cultivation able to produce, harvest and package the goods all in one productive chain. The varieties of apples being grown are changing and there is a constant search for new varieties, even if it is difficult to demonstrate that the quality of these new varieties is higher than that of the old ones.
Compared to ten years ago, the apple industry has made important steps forward: efficiency has significantly improved in the orchards, in harvesting and in packaging. The shops are larger and better organised. There is a rich diversity of varieties and quality has improved. The greatest weakness is the lack of a global and professional approach to the growing demand of fresh apples.
New technologies can be of great help in this case. At present it is difficult to quantify how much the social instruments for the dissemination of information such as Facebook and Twitter may positively influence the apple market, but other sciences show very positive results: genetic engineering is trying to improve the nutrients in the fruit and to ensure that the plants are more resistant to pests and diseases.
What has emerged during the first day of the convention is that in the immediate future the apple industry will have to face some challenges like trying to halt the decline in per capita consumption. In order to achieve this it is necessary to obtain better information on consumer preferences and to improve communication, using both old and new media.
It will be necessary to open up to new technologies because many of these can reduce costs, improve quality and protect the environment; it will also be necessary to attack non traditional markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia and the Middle East where the importation of apples is constantly increasing, even if the prices are low. These markets however, must be carefully studied in order to adopt winning marketing strategies.
The convention continued with an analysis of the economic situation of apple production and of the market organisation in the leading European apple producing regions. Speakers included producers from Alto Adige, Poland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland, which provided production data and listed the strengths and weaknesses of their business areas.
For more information:
Francesco Reggiani and Giorgia Marchetti
International press office of Interpoma c/o Fruitecom
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