Marlene receives increasing attention
The Association of South Tyrolean fruit growers is located in Terlano in the Val d'Adige region. In South Tyrol, some 5000 apple growers cultivate an area of 10,800 hectares, making it the biggest orchard in Europe.
Since 2010, VOG coordinates sales, quality control, marketing and PR and general business operations from its head office. There are 16 cooperatives affiliated with the association, which are divided into four pools: Pool Meran, Pool Bozen West, Pool Bozen Süd and Pool Unterland.
A good apple production is expected for this season. "Not only in volume but also in quality," says Karl Pichler of VOG. The expected yield is 735,000 tons, of which 660,000 is destined for the fresh market. This is significantly more than last season, when the yield was 671,000 tons. The high yield, according to Karl, is due to an exceptional flowering period, good weather and an early harvest because of the warm spring.
Besides the labels Südtirol and Marlene, VOG also markets some club varieties, including Kanzi, Jazz, Rubens, Modi and Pink Lady. Organic apples are marketed under the label Bio Südtirol or Bio Marlene. The club varieties Pink Lady, Rubens, Kanzi, Modi and Jazz have a biological variant, marketed by VOG.
The Marlene was introduced in 1995. "We wanted to introduce a label which we could keep total control over, and with which we could distinguish ourselves,” says Karl. "Only the best apples of the Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn and Royal Gala varieties are marketed under this brand. Currently I’d say about 75 to 80% of production is destined for Marlene.”
Marlene apples are available at the higher-segment outlets. Since its introduction, the label has managed to conquer the market, especially in Italy and Spain. Marlene is now not only a famous Italian brand, but it’s also on its way to becoming a respected European brand. Aartsenfruit from Breda is the exclusive importer of Marlene for the Netherlands, Ringoot Fruit for Belgium. The popularity of Marlene is also evident from the number of followers on Facebook. With 280,336 likes, the label has the highest number of fans in Europe.
VOG also hopes to promote the label outside of Europe. Focus lies on the Mediterranean and North African countries. Karl: "North Africa in particular has great potential. This year we introduced Marlene to the Algerian market, so we’re very excited to see what will happen next."