Georg Kössler, President of the South Tyrolean Apple Consortium and Arnold Schuler, Provincial Agriculture Councilor, both spoke of a difficult time in the fruit business, touching on the challenges currently being faced. The bumper crop in Europe and the import embargo imposed by Russia present the marketers with great challenges. Experts from the leading apple-growing areas around the world are tackling the central questions of marketing throughout this conference: Where is the consumption of the future going to come from? Where are the markets of the future, and how will market flows change?

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"We must get out of Europe", stated Helwig Schwartau from Agrarmarkt Informationsgesellschaft, hitting the nail on the head. At present between 10 and 12 million tons of apples are grown in Europe annually, and this trend is a rising one. The volume of cultivation will rise, particularly in Eastern Europe, despite the fact that consumption of apples continues to decline. The European markets - according to Schwartau - are saturated, while the Russian borders for European apples are closed. The market flows will therefore be trending southwards, to North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In the classic European markets, Schwartau does however perceive additional potential for Club varieties.

Gottfried Tappeiner, Professor at the University of Innsbruck has advised marketing specialists to focus on consumption patterns. According to him, one thing is clear: apples should replace non-apple products! Apples compete with various other snacks, and need to get more firmly anchored in the awareness of the consumer.

The Russian embargo presents new challenges, especially for the Polish apple producers, confirmed Dominik Wozniak, from the Rajpol Cooperative (PL), simply because the main customer for Polish apples has severed its trade links.

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Steve Lutz from the US sales and marketing organization CMI from Washington State spoke about the challenge facing the American apple market. Apple farming in the US has undergone profound changes: the number of producers has been declining sharply ever since 1997 and the cultivated area has also shrunk by one quarter while production volumes have remained the same. America is witnessing a similar decline in consumption to Europe. However, 'Club varieties' such as Honey Crisp, Pink Lady and Ambrosia remain popular, and demand is high. Nonetheless, Steve Lutz views the issue of retaining long-term customer loyalty as a major challenge.

Peter Beaven, President of WAPA, also places great hopes in the Club varieties. At Interpoma he reported on the challenges on the New Zealand apple market.

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