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Italy: More retail chains interested in Rockit

We all know the first year a new product is available in retail is a test. Rockit seems to have passed with flying colours. The commercialisation of these snack apples started in June in Bennet stores and, now that the second year has arrived, it is possible to say things have gone well. 

"Last year, we sold 10 thousand tubes, and this year we are expecting to sell 200 thousand," explains Federico Belottini, Rockit product manager at Melavì, the cooperative holding the exclusive rights to produce and commercialise this variety in Italy.

"Feedback has been positive so far, both in stores and at fairs. Bennet was the first chain to believe in Rockit and six other chains have shown their interest so far - Coop Adriatica, Esselunga, Iper, Sigma, Unes and Il Gigante."

Rockit in the Melavì corner at Macfrut 2016. 

Until September, the produce commercialised by the first chain was imported (from New Zealand, where this apple was developed), now these 5 chains should be able to sell produce grown in Italy, although volumes available do not enable the coverage of all stores. This year, Italy produced 140 tons more but, "we should be able to grow more over the next few year in order to increase our supplies and meet the needs of any new chain wanting to commercialise Rockit. Next year, we will plant another 60 thousand trees on 20 hectares."

"This is the first true year of commercialisation and, if we consider production and the chains who will sell Rockit, I can say we did well. Our only limits were grades but, now that the campaign is over, we can say we are satisfied as 70% of the fruit was suitable for commercialisation (i.e. between 50 and 60 mm)." While such grades would be too small for the standard apple market, they are precisely what makes these apples stand out on the shelves.

Rockit in the Melavì stand at Fruit Logistica 2016.

"Extra-grade Rockits, i.e. exceeding 65 mm, cannot be sold in Italy as they would have to compete with table apples. These, however, are not more than 7/8% of the total. We are thinking about exporting them to South-East Asia." 

Melavi will sell its apples to Switzerland - the first tests will be carried out in early 2017 - and Russia, "for the Orthodox New Year. Because of the ban, we will export produce grown in Switzerland."

Rockit is gaining popularity abroad too. Production is increasing in New Zealand and commercialisation is growing in Northern Europe, especially Germany, France and Belgium. The same can be said about North America, where two companies gained exclusive rights for the US, Canada and Mexico.
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