Italy: Asia-bound kiwifruit exports skyrocket for Apofruit
Italian company Apofruit Group has seen a spike in kiwifruit shipments to Asia this season, driven by exports of the green kiwifruit variety Solarelli Asiastici, branded as Solemio.
Presented at last year's Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, the Solemio kiwifruit's packaging is branded with red and yellow hues - colors which some Asian cultures associate with luck and wealth.
Apofruit commercial manager Ilenio Bastoni told www.freshfruitportal.com fruit sizes had been bigger this year with a lower output of fruit than average per plant, while harvests were delayed as flowering was set back by two weeks last year.
"This year we’ve exported around a hundred containers to this market [Asia], which is a 70% increase compared to last year," Bastoni said, adding that China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore were the main destinations for the fruit in the region.
"It [Solemio] was the main reason for our growth in the Asian market."
The executive added that out of the Cesena-based company's 30,000 metric tons (MT) of annual production of the fruit, 15% was exported overseas.
Bastoni said uncertainty around vine disease Psa meant Apofruit hadn't done any replanting for many years, but that changed in 2013 with his group's operative members starting to invest in new plantations once more.
Last year marked the third year of the 'Kiwi Qualita' (Kiwifruit Quality) project, with members adhering to strict production controls. Those who harvest a dry matter of 16.5% in their fruit receive a bonus on the liquidation price of the fruit.
The executive adds the organic sector is making leaps and bounds around the world as well.
"Apofruit Group is the market leader of organic produce, a sector that represents over €70 million (US$97.2 million) for the company, and kiwifruit is one of the most important products," Bastoni said.
Last year’s crop in the main production area of Lazio was affected by the bacteria PSA, while in 2013 the pest was better controlled. Frosts negatively affected the area of Piedmont, all which brought down the potential numbers of kiwifruit.
Piedmont-based Gullino Group's sales manager Armando Peirone has witnessed a very different kiwifruit season to Bastoni's, citing smaller sizes and little focus on the Asian market.
"There are few small caliber kiwifruit and high demand. The general trend is towards high prices," Peirone said.
"Production figures are similar to last year’s, and the season will continue until early May. Exports are satisfactory though little has been exported to Asia."