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Urs Luder GKE:

"Kanzi won't lapse into 'Jonagold mode''"

Urs Luder, the man behind the Kanzi apple, talks about the latest developments in the European season. He notes that it's satisfactory so far. "Despite the difficult apple market, the Kanzi is still going strong. Particularly in tough years, we have to prove ourselves, and we've managed so far," he says.

Sold at value
Urs says that the prices connect to last season. "Kanzi is sold at value. The difference with the 'normal' apple is even bigger though, this time. In addition, the Kanzi's price remains stable. This is because we stand out with excellent quality. Kanzi is flavourful, and has a long shelf life." Of course there are some issues. "For instance, we need to sort more now, but that's logical when the season has been running for some time." Size graduation is also good. "Last year, the sizes were rather small, but the apples are a bit bulkier now."

Russia was also a Kanzi buyer. "In the bigger picture, the numbers weren't extreme. So there was no panic, because demand is very good in all other countries. We even had too little for the harvest for a while. There were fewer shipments from overseas, so we did have a gap in some markets during the summer. The consumer did let us know through social media. Once the European Kanzi was freshly available on the market again, it was received with a lot of enthusiasm."

Not in 'Jonagold mode'

Kanzi has eight distributors in Europe. Urs notes that the Kanzi expansion is controlled, in order to be able to keep guaranteeing sales. "Kanzi saw a strong growth, but that's calmed down a bit now. Kanzi does have to remain Kanzi. Of course we don't want to lapse into a 'Jonagold mode'. We keep growing responsibly within the current partners, and we want to cultivate on quality. That also means in carefully selected regions. Quality is the most important here. If we let the consumer down once, you can't make up for that. You need years to win over a consumer, but you could lose them very quickly after one disappointment." According to Luder, there is plenty of enthusiasm to cultivate Kanzi, but not all growers are interested.

Many promotions
To make Kanzi even more well-known, promotions are held every year. This year, for instance, Kanzi was at the Good Food Show in London. The apples were received enthusiastically there. "The English like a slightly more sour taste. The market is very hard to reach though. One advantage is that we have local production there." According to Urs, such events go very well. "Take the home exhibition in the Netherlands, for instance. The interest there is great! The consumer is able to buy that Kanzi." A lot of promotions will follow, both online and offline. "In January, the second production wave is coming, and we have a lot of fun things in store: on social media, on the radio, promotions in stores, and a lot more."

Year-round Kanzi
Kanzi is expected to be available all year in more sales regions in 2015. "In the Southern Hemisphere, production is going well, so we're expecting to have enough until summer. Last year, there was a lot of hail in South Africa, causing a decrease in production. Now we're also cultivating in other areas, so the risk is spread out more. Finally, we are now able to supply more to America as well. We've been saying for years that we're on our way, and the consumer is waiting impatiently. Kanzi is truly unique over there. With an oversupply of sweet apples in the US, we hadn't anticipated the response to Kanzi's sweet and sour flavour to be so positive. Apparently the consumer there also needs a change."

Competition is healthy
Of course Kanzi also has competitors. "But that's good, competition is healthy," Urs thinks. "Being challenged, keeps you on your toes. And if you have a strong product, there's no reason to be afraid of things going wrong. Not every apple can be a Kanzi. This apple can be used in many ways, and is well liked by many. Even in the 'sweet' markets, such as Spain, Kanzi is selling like crazy." Together with the partners, markets are being looked for. Volume-wise, the Netherlands and Germany are currently the largest buyers. "We had already been planning to approach new markets, but the Russian boycott has only accelerated that. We see a lot of opportunities within the current markets as well, in Germany for instance. In the Netherlands, nearly three quarters of a kilo is consumed per capita. Germany is still well below that."

For more information:
Urs T. Luder
Tongersesteenweg 152
B- 3800 Sint-Truiden
Tel: +32 116 706 11
Fax: +32 116 727 76
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