The VOG Consortium, one of Europe’s leading apple producers, is expecting to enjoy a positive start to the season. This optimism is based on the European production forecasts released by Prognosfruit, which point to a fall in volumes all over the continent. This, together with the predicted increase in quality of the harvest of the 4,600 VOG members, has raised hopes of a dynamic and vibrant start to the season following the difficulties of last year.
VOG CEO Walter Pardatscher had the following to say about Prognosfruit’s findings: “First of all – he explains – it is important to remember that these figures are only part of the picture and must be interpreted. Rather than concentrating on quantities, together with our customers we want to focus on category management so we can offer consumers the best possible assortment all year round.”
According to the forecasts, the situation is showing signs of improvement. “The European apple harvest is expected to amount to around 11.4 million tonnes, below last year’s production level – continues Pardatscher, CEO of VOG – The market seems to be relatively empty and this could result in greater market stability. The challenge remains that of general apple consumption. Faced with rising costs, we and all other producers have to secure higher levels of demand in order to increase our prices and guarantee the survival of our growers.”
According to Klaus Hölzl, Sales Manager at VOG, interesting opportunities could arise on the European market. “Italian apple production is in line with recent years at 2.1 million tonnes and France and Spain predict a slightly bigger harvest, but Germany and the Benelux countries anticipate lower yields – explains Hölzl – Given the limited local offer expected in our export destinations on the continent, this year could be more interesting for Italian apples. Nevertheless, it is important to diversify our markets and grow exports also outside of Europe.”
“The diversification of our markets is important and stems from our ability to offer the right apple for every need, all year round – confirms Hannes Tauber, VOG Marketing Manager – For this reason we support our partners in Italy and the world with a wide array of varieties and brands that also enable shops to broaden their ranges. With our brand diversification and innovative sector marketing campaigns, we aim to drive up the consumption of both apples and fruit and vegetables in general.”
Overview of the 2022/2023 season
A difficult year due to the high volumes of low quality apples at the start of the season and the contraction in European consumption. This is how the previous sales campaign can be summarised in a nutshell. In this context, exports to non-European markets represented an effective way of driving up sales. “Though the price of the apples wasn’t always sufficient to cover the rising costs, the main goal was to sell – explains Klaus Hölzl – Demand in Europe was stronger in the second part of the season and unusually high in the final months due to the scarcity of other products. Exports outside Europe were positive throughout the year.”
Italy. Demand in Italy was high throughout the year, rising significantly from April due to the lack of summer fruit. “For VOG, Italy represents around 35% of the market and we have managed to increase our sales – remarks Hölzl – particularly thanks to the new varieties we have introduced in the last few years.
Spain. The smaller harvest of local apples made Spain an interesting market for the Consortium. The country is of particular importance for the Marlene® brand but has also become an increasingly key market for new apples like envy™, Crimson Snow® and Cosmic Crisp®.
Germany. Germany was a tricky market for VOG with strong local production and retailers able to purchase German products at very competitive prices. “In the second part of the season there was a fall in the availability of local German apples, opening up more opportunities for us – explains Hölzl – Thanks to our contract apples, organic products and guaranteed supplies all year around, we were able to maintain an important position also in this market”.
Non-European markets. Exports outside of Europe proved to be very important in the recently concluded campaign with significant growth in places like the Middle East, Asia and South America. “Market diversification is one of our strengths – comments Hölzl – because it enables us to tap into new areas and meet the needs of consumers in different parts of the world.”
“Our ability to maintain our position on the key markets in a season like 2022/2023 shows just how important organisation and planning are for our daily activities – concludes CEO Walter Pardatscher – The outlook for the start of the new season is decidedly better but we mustn’t lose sight of the challenges represented by consumption trends and the increase in production costs. By carefully navigating these challenges, we aim to consolidate our stability and growth in our sector.”