Interpoma a "must" for global apple industry players -

Interpoma a "must" for global apple industry players

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Harvests for this season are almost finished in the northern Italian region of South Tyrol, where apple industry players from all around the world will gather in a week's time for the biennial event Interpoma in Bolzano.

The picturesque town of Bolzano will play host to the world's apple industry next week from Nov. 24-26. Photo: Elena Botoeva, via Wikimedia Commons

The picturesque town of Bolzano will play host to the world's apple industry next week from Nov. 24-26. Photo: Elena Botoeva, via Wikimedia Commons

Event organizer Kurt Werth tells on a local level the harvest is "more or less concluded", with about 30-40% of the remaining Cripps Pink fruit still on the trees. 

"That will go on maybe 10 days to two weeks. Then it will be over – all the other varieties are already picked," he says.

"The harvest time was excellent this year – color has been excellent so I think the expectation for the storage should be fine, or much better than last year anyway.

"Last year we had a lot of rain and that influenced the storability a lot. From that point of view we’ll have no problems."

He says South Tyrol is one of the most intensive apple-growing areas in the world, with limited space and small family farms working together under a philosophy of "high production, the highest as possible, with the best quality of the best varieties".

It is certainly a different set-up to other major apple-growing countries like the U.S. and China, but Werth says producers from around the world will be able to learn from the Italian growing practices and vice versa. 

"If you look for the best quality produced, I would say it's in Japan and Korea because in those countries, even Fuji – being the most important variety there – they produce quality at such a high standard that the rest of the world can only learn from them," he says.

Kurth Werth

Kurth Werth

Whether it be sharing information or learning new growing or post-harvest techniques, Werth says it is a "must" for anyone in the apple industry to attend Interpoma because "you meet everybody there".

"For the last edition two years ago, which was the ninth and this year we're in the tenth, we had 18,000 visitors from 70 countries and around 440 companies exhibiting their products at the fair," he says.

"We have a three-day international conference with many interesting themes being discussed, so it is an event where everybody involved in apples meets, and we are very happy about that. 

"Probably the visitors will probably increase this year – we see it from the bookings."

Sector challenges

Werth says there are essentially three main issues affecting apple growers and traders at the moment - overproduction in Europe, impacts from Russian sanctions and declining consumption per capita.

"I recently read an article from a German specialist who said that in Germany even with lower prices the consumption of apples went down 4% from 2015 to 2016," he says.

"That in the end means less consumption and all these things influence the price and the difficulties on the market."

To respond, there has been a big push from European growers to enter new markets with North Africa and the Far East as two highlights.interpoma

"It’s incredible at least from our point of view – for many years we really had no market in the North African countries. Nobody understands why because it’s just across the Mediterranean Sea and you have millions of people living there," Werth says.

"But especially in the last two or three years with the Russian situation, marketers have been forced to find new marketplaces. 

"That increased the market a lot for those countries from Morocco to Egypt – even if the political situation in many countries is not very stable, in spite of this there are increases in very interesting markets."

He says historically there hasn't been much connection between European apple growers and the Far East, but that is starting to change.

"It has always been in the hands of the Americans, the Southern Hemisphere marketers, but nowadays we’ve started to export low quantities to the Far East where we know half of the world’s population lives.

"In Chinese supermarkets you find apples from New Zealand, from the States, from Chile, so why not from Europe? Only because there’s not much tradition to export to those countries but there is a potential to do that."



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