30 years ago, the Export Association Apples (EVA) was founded in the heart of Styria, Austria's most important apple-growing region. In the following three decades, the company has built up a good reputation in the international arena. We spoke with today's Managing Director Roland Rosenzopf (right) about the company's history as well as the challenges facing the Styrian apple export industry today.
In 1993, the year of its foundation, Austria was not yet part of the EU. In the course of Austria's accession to the EU in 1995, new opportunities opened up for Austria and thus also for the apple sector with better and easier access to the EU internal market. With the basic idea of joining forces in export and appearing together on the market, five large Styrian marketing companies founded the export association EVA. "In the meantime, a lot of time has passed and a lot has changed," says Rosenzopf. "Nowadays, EVA is owned by two large Styrian producer organizations and, for me, there is no question that joining forces and joint market activities are still important criteria in the international market environment."
In the past three decades, EVA has also seen some serious changes, both internally and in the apple market. Rosenzopf: "The biggest setbacks that we as a company, but also the entire growing region of
Styria, were primarily triggered by the weather-related challenges that we have frequently been confronted with since 2016. Looking back, however, we can say that from the foundation of a small company 30 years ago and through the active cooperation of many people in the successful project, a company and a brand have emerged over the years, which enjoys a very good reputation and has a high international profile. In this respect, the highs have definitely exceeded the lows."
Styrian apple producers
High product quality and long supply availability
In this context, the apple exporter also points to the good reputation of the Styrian apple-growing region. "Styrian apples continue to enjoy a very high reputation and need not shy away from comparison with other renowned growing regions. Especially with the main varieties such as Gala and Golden Delicious, customers appreciate the extremely high product quality and the long supply availability. In the meantime, however, we can also draw on a thoroughly attractive product portfolio of club varieties. In addition to the main brands Evelina and Tessa, which account for the largest volume, EVA also has Kanzi, Kiku and Rockit in its range," explains Rosenzopf.
"Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, we did have to deal with very significant climatic challenges, especially frost damage, more often than not in recent years, which unfortunately made our volume portfolio extremely volatile. Because of this, it was important for us to focus on long-standing existing customers in recent years. Developing 'new' export markets under these volatile conditions is difficult, in some cases not even possible or purposeful."
View of an apple plant in Styria.
Change offers opportunities
Even though frost has put a spanner in the works of many Styrian producers this year as well, the 23/24 season starting September 30 is all about the anniversary, Rosenzopf emphasizes. To mark the occasion, the company has not only had its own anniversary logo and a short image film created, but also a special portrait to mark 30 years of EVA. The company is looking ahead: "Every time of change always offers new opportunities and possibilities. Disruption and innovation always go hand in hand in this respect. Our main task is to continue to be a reliable partner to our long-standing customers and partners in order to generate corresponding revenues for our producers. The next step is clearly 2043: 50 years of EVA."
Visit the company at Fruit Attraction 2023: 8E14