Despite the complex international situation, the VOG Consortium shows a positive balance sheet for the first half of the season and registers optimism for the continuation of the campaign. The analysis of sales trends, the international challenges, and the complexity of the commercial season comes from Berlin, where the Consortium brought its innovations to the space dedicated to South Tirol/Südtirol in Hall 2.2.
“We are in a time of great transformation within the international markets. This is a context whose evolution is difficult to predict – said the Director of VOG Walter Pardatscher – However, we can say that, so far, the commercial season has shown satisfactory results. Our structure and our varietal offer allow us to cope with this complexity, as evidenced by the many satisfied customers we met at the fair in Berlin”.
The goals for the first half of the season have been achieved
The sales trend in the first six months of the 2021/2022 season was positive. “Even if the increase in domestic production in all European countries has posed a challenge for everyone, we were able to preserve our position on the market and meet our sales targets, especially thanks to demand from non-European markets”, reports Klaus Hölzl, VOG Sales Manager.
Stocks confirm the dynamic trend of the season: “As of February 1, 2022, VOG Consortium stocks amounted to 305,000 tons, 4% lower than last year – explains Hölzl – In Europe, on the contrary, stocks are certainly higher than in 2021, even if good quality apples of adequate size are commercialized satisfactorily”. The trend is dynamic namely for apples from integrated production, while the decrease in stocks of organic apples is driven by demand from Germany, in the face of a stagnant situation in its internal market.
Now, production trends in the southern hemisphere do not seem cause to worry. Here the harvest is in full swing. Hölzl continues: “In light of the increase in transport costs and the possible logistic problems, issues that affect all producers facing intercontinental exports, it is possible to estimate a reduction in shipments to Europe in the second half of the season. This will ensure that there is more room for in-house production. There are many variables in play, and it is very difficult to predict how the season will evolve, but our attitude remains optimistic “.
The international context: an evolving scenario
First the pandemic, with the consequent economic and commercial repercussions due to the various lockdowns, then the situation in Ukraine: the international situation has an impact on the season. The exclusion of Russia from the Swift system is affecting the trade flows of an already very complex apple market, posing an obstacle to European exports, in particular those from Poland to the East.
The situation is also evolving on the raw materials front. The cost of both cardboard and plastic packaging has seen an increase of between 20 and 30%. Added to this is a higher energy cost, for which an increase of around 60% is estimated compared to last autumn, and the consequent increase in transport costs. In terms of energy, the photovoltaic systems that all the VOG cooperatives are equipped with have made it possible to cushion the impact of the increases.
The focus on varietal programming continues
Among VOG’s responses to such an uncertain market, there is certainly the recent years’ strategic focus on programming and varietal innovation. “A rich and deep assortment, able to meet different needs for 12 months a year is a fundamental asset to face global competition and better manage sales and prices – explains Director Walter Pardatscher – Our goal is to produce apples that are the best from a qualitative point of view and able to enter the market in precise commercial windows. This articulated and at the same time balanced offer is an opportunity for our customers to offer consumers the right apple at all times, in every market. “
Not surprisingly, the three new apples marketed by VOG were among the protagonists of Fruit Logistica. These apples, which saw their commercial debut this year, are: Cosmic Crisp®, RedPop® and Giga®. “We have decided to dedicate the Innovation Corner, created together with VIP at our stand in Berlin, to these innovations – says Hannes Tauber, VOG Marketing Manager – These are three apples suitable for the second half of the season, thanks to their storage ability.
Each has distinctive characteristics and a specific and original brand identity, to guide consumers, helping them choose the right apple for their tastes”. This season VOG has collected 900 tons of Cosmic Crisp®, and about 2,000 of both RedPop® and Giga®. “Our new products have already been very well received by the market. To give greater strength to Giga® and RedPop®, we have chosen to pair them with our Marlene® brand, which has always been synonymous with quality, origin, taste, and well-being in many European countries”, adds Tauber.
“With the modern varietal offer, it is essential to differentiate and tell the characteristics of each variety, even at the point of sale – explains Tauber – There have always been numerous types of apples in fruit and vegetable departments but the advantage we have today is to have apples designed to respond to modern lifestyles supported by strong brands capable of immediately evoking the peculiarities of each product and the values of the target audience “.
Marlene® brings spring to all communication touchpoints
Marlene®, the historic brand owned by VOG, continues its communication campaign, which this year revolves around the concept of the four seasons. “The third flight of the campaign kicked off at the end of March with Marlene® spring, through an intense series of international initiatives that allow us to oversee all the main touchpoints, from TV to digital, from packaging to out of home”, comments Hannes Tauber.
The new TV commercial for the apple known as the “Daughter of the Alps” is back on air with a special reference to our organic production. The spring label created by the artists who participated in the contest organized for the 25th anniversary, was featured for two weeks on Marlene® apples sold in Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The spring artworks of the finalists also decorated the trams of Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Seville, and Oslo, in an original out of home initiative. The Marlene® social channels also tell with engaging images and videos the main moments that characterize spring, from the beginning of pollination to the delicate sprout protection operations that involve the antifreeze systems, to the scenic candles lit all through the apple orchards.