Six months into the 2017-2018 season it is time for VOG, the Alto Adige-based consortium to take stock: sales are better than initially expected and prices are profitable. Early end to the season expected, reviving competition with foreign producers
Midway through the 2017-2018 apple season and the optimistic forecasts made at the start of the season are looking very accurate. After three years of over-production and falls in prices, a European harvest of 9 million tonnes has helped reverse the trend and the equilibrium of the market has finally been restored.
The -25% fall in the VOG Group harvest has translated into a drop in production of almost all of the classic varieties: Royal Gala (-15%), Red Delicious (-26%) and Braeburn -34%. Unfortunately, worst hit has been the Golden Delicious harvest, falling by 45%. The only exceptions have been the Fuji (-4%) and the Granny Smith, whose harvest level has mirrored that of 2016. There has also been a fall in production levels of the new Club apples, with the Pink Lady® falling by 15% compared with the previous harvest, while volumes for the Kanzi® and envy™ have been the same as in 2016 thanks to the new orchards planted in previous years.
As forecast at the start of the season the most influential markets have been Italy and Germany, which were most heavily affected by the spring frosts and where the paucity of the two leading varieties, the Golden Delicious and the Jonagold respectively, has been keenly felt.
“Despite our positive forecasts even we were surprised by the net increase in prices and we feared that consumption might be negatively affected, something which luckily hasn’t happened – explains Director of VOG Gerhard Dichgans - in fact, sales are going very well and we expect an early end to the season”. The performances of the standard varieties, which have suffered most in the last few seasons, have been particularly good with their prices now closer to those of the Club apples.
On 1 February VOG Consortium apple stocks were 33% down compared with the previous year, reflecting the quick rate of sales of recent weeks. “Our apple stocks are currently only 2/3 of what they were at the midway point of the 2016/2017 season – adds the Consortium Director – and stocks of the Golden Delicious are down by over 50% compared with last year. Royal Gala stocks will run out in the first weeks of March while Kanzi® and Pink Lady® stocks will run out in late April and early May respectively - a month early in other words.”
In short, the season is expected to come to a very early end and this could represent an opportunity for foreign apple producers to reclaim some of the market share they have lost in recent years.
As well as sales trends, it is also already possible to get the first feedback on the Marlene® brand’s new coordinated image: “The restyling and the new brand strategy have been met very positively and our customers have been very happy with them”, concludes Dichgans. The second flight of the communications campaign that began in November will be launched in March. In this new phase, the brand will be promoted on TV and with commercials in Italy and Spain, as well as in Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.