Beginning with the Royal Gala and SweeTango™ varieties, mid-August saw the start of the 2023 harvest of the 4,600 member growers of the VOG Consortium in Terlano (Bolzano), one of Europe’s leading table apple production and marketing organisations.
The apple season is off to a promising start for VOG, especially in terms of fruit quality. During the summer the Consortium’s production areas in South Tyrol – Südtirol enjoyed sufficient water supply and a good temperature difference between day and night, ideal conditions for excellent apples.
“This year, we can once again guarantee our customers 12-month availability of a large assortment of quality apples, in which everyone can find the right fruit for their needs,” comments Walter Pardatscher, CEO of VOG. “Now the challenge will be to navigate the complexities of the markets and production costs in order to fully recognise our members’ commitment and expertise.”
In terms of market demand, the first signs are positive. “In contrast to the previous season, this year there already seems to be room in all our main markets,” explains Klaus Hölzl, Sales Manager at VOG. “We are seeing dynamic and lively demand and a market that is open to both integrated and organic production.”
Varieties and brands
True to its promise to be a Home of apples, VOG provides customers with one of the most comprehensive assortments of varieties and brands, as confirmed by this year’s harvest.
After last year’s drop, Royal Gala quantities have returned to the levels of previous harvests. Levels are also average for Golden Delicious, while Granny Smith and Red Delicious will see a slight decline, in line with the rest of Italian production. Fuji and Braeburn complete the main traditional varieties, which to date account for the largest share of the quantities harvested by the Consortium.
The volumes of the more established contract apples are also stable: Pink Lady®, Kanzi®, Jazz™, envy™ and yello®. The increased production of last years’ plantings will lead to significant growth for the new Cosmic Crisp®, Giga®, RedPop®, Joya®, Crimson Snow® and SweeTango™ apples, as envisaged in the multi-year plan.
Organic production is also stable, accounting for 10% of VOG’s cultivated areas. Expectations regarding quality are also very good for organic.
Marketing campaigns at the starting line
With the harvest underway and such an impressive assortment, the Consortium is ready to support its products with innovative and diverse marketing campaigns. Particular emphasis will be placed on trade marketing and point of sales, which have already seen a strong commitment from VOG over the past year, with a widespread presence in the main target markets.
Hannes Tauber, Marketing Manager at VOG, discusses this subject: “Our range and experience make us the ideal partner for handling the apple category. Diverse varieties and brands are key to creating an attractive and colourful department for consumers, where everyone can find the right apple for their lifestyle and the brand they can identify with.”
“Given the substantial number of apples, marketing has to work like an orchestra,” adds Tauber. “There is a basic communication that is like a symphony and has to lead the consumer to a greater awareness of the world of apples, different varieties, and different consumption occasions. Each brand also has its own unique identity, reaching its target audience with its specific image. This is why we have implemented annual planning, which avoids overlaps and highlights the different identities of our apples in the right contexts and at the right times. The goal is to support our customers in reaching consumers, increasing sales and enhancing the apple category.”
One of the first campaigns to launch will be for Marlene®, the Daughter of the Alps, which will expand the concept of the aroma wheel, origin and taste to create added value around the more classic varieties. Late August will mark the start of the marketing for SweeTango™, presented as “summer in an apple”.
In October, the spotlight will be on Kanzi®, with a campaign focusing on energy, envy™, which will continue with the theme of the five senses and its premium positioning, and yello®, a true gourmet speciality. November will see the start of the commercial campaign for Pink Lady®, the last variety to be harvested. The second half of the season will once again focus on Cosmic Crisp®, Giga® and RedPop®, varieties that are particularly well suited to withstand a period of cold storage.