Annual production of over 35,000 tonnes of organic apples grown in a dedicated area of South Tyrol – Südtirol. Three hundred member growers, a wide range of brands, 40 export countries and a presence on the market 12 months a year, always with top quality fruit. These are the organic farming numbers of the VOG Consortium of Terlano (BZ), one of the biggest apple producers in Europe, which at BIOFACH in Nuremberg presented its organic production projects.
For more than thirty years organic farming has been integral to the development of VOG: a growing segment that has become increasingly important every year and which now represents 10% of the surface area cultivated by the consortium’s producers.
The VOG product range, able to meet market demand 12 months a year, includes the Bio Marlene® and Biosüdtirol brands, as well as successful brands like Pink Lady® Bio and Kanzi® Bio and the more recent Giga®, RedPop® and Cosmic Crisp®, three next-generation apples suitable for organic farming and ideal for the second half of the season. The Consortium’s assortment also includes exclusively organic brands like Natyra®, Topaz, Pilot, Gold Rush and Bonita.
“Today’s organic market has plenty of potential but is also competitive – explains Klaus Hölzl, sales manager of VOG –. For this reason, straightforward organic products are no longer enough for modern consumers; they want brands that guarantee value, quality and freshness, and with which they can identify. Our range meets these needs, enabling us to offer apples suitable for different consumers and lifestyles but always of the utmost quality and from a closely controlled production chain”.
VOG’s organic products are present in over 40 markets, including Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Benelux, but also outside Europe, in the Middle East and Asia.
The development of VOG’s organic business is part of a wider approach to sustainability that characterises all of the Consortium’s production activities. “We are active in various areas, beginning with our participation in the Sustainapple project, which involves all players in the South Tyrolean apple production chain with the aim of guaranteeing a form of development in harmony with nature and the environment, also in accordance with the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda – explains Walter Pardatscher, CEO of VOG.
Moreover, many of our members are small family-run farms intent on leaving their children and grandchildren a healthy and liveable region where they can construct their futures in harmony with the surrounding environment”.
The Consortium has been investing in photovoltaic energy for several years with systems fitted to the roofs of the packaging plants that reuse the clean energy generated by the 300 days of sunshine in South Tyrol – Südtirol. As well as promoting the use of renewable sources, this choice has also proved to be farsighted from an economic perspective, making it possible to face up to the rising energy prices of recent months.
In terms of the circular economy, lots of projects have been launched to make product packaging sustainable and to reuse processing waste. For some time now, apples unsuitable for eating raw have been reused in by-products like juices and purées. Now apple residues are also being reused in the production of paper, cardboard and packaging, or in innovative projects for the production of energy and fertiliser.
“Improving the impact of your activities on the environment isn’t something you can improvise, it requires cooperation, research and a lot of dedication – concludes Pardatscher –. From planning which varieties to plant, which enables us to select the right apple for different production requirements and climatic conditions, to circular economy projects and through to energy and water efficiency, we are ready to rise to the challenge of sustainability also thanks to the unyielding support of our producers, partners, customers and consumers”.