During the trade fair Interpoma today, grower cooperative organizations VOG and VI.P launched the brand in the presence of a Japanese delegation and Councilor for Agriculture in the Bolzano Province, Arnold Schuler.
Schuler himself had previously tried to cultivate the variety but couldn’t get a hold of trees – perhaps a sign of demand for the cultivar which was developed in 1993 as a cross between Golden Delicious and Japanese apple Senshu.
After an experimental license was signed between Japan’s Nagano Prefecture and Italian variety testing platform SK Südtirol in 2007, extensive testing was taken on farms, storage facilities and at the consumer level, where it rated consistently higher than Golden Delicious.
SK Südtirol director Markus Bradlwarter told a press conference the apple was challenging for growers, requiring more picks than other varieties to achieve the golden characteristics necessary for its iconic crunchy texture and sweet taste.
It also requires altitudes of 400-800 meters above sea level, but this is not a problem in the South Tyrol region.
“It’s not an easy variety but the results are fascinating,” VOG director Gerhard Dichgans told www.freshfruitportal.com.
“We have sent samples to a few customers from Scandinavia, Italy and Spain, and everywhere we’ve found the highest attention to this new offer,” he said.
“The opportunities are both in countries where Golden is still a big part of consumption – like Italy and Spain – and also in countries where the Golden [Delicious] consumption is small, a minimal percentage like Germany where golden consumption is lower than 5%.”
With the variety’s unique flavor, texture and color, the next step after testing was to come up with a brand that was appropriate. Dichgans and VOG marketing director Sabine Oberhollenzer worked intensively on the project, enlisting the services of agency Landor in Milan.
And the end result was as much psychological as it was visual, seeking to turn the tide on what Dichgans referred to as a “prejudice” against yellow-colored apples; not just in Golden Delicious but bicolored apples too.
“The consumer obviously has tested by himself often enough that yellow background means overripe fruit, which when he brings home and bites into is weak and soft and mealy,” he said.
“This was a point of weakness, so we thought eventually we could make that weakness a point of strength and a big opportunity by saying proudly ‘this variety has to be yellow to be good’ to develop the characteristic exotic flavor with the crunchiness of this new variety – its juiciness, its sweetness.
“This new logo obviously has the ‘W’ elapsed and it’s just ‘Yello’, so the brand name tells a little about how the apple should be,” he said, adding the logo had flourishes resembling Japanese calligraphy as a nod to the cultivar’s origins.
Dichgans said 150,000 trees of the variety would be planted in Italy over the next two years, while trials were also taking place in four other continents through VOG and VI.P’s partners in the International Pome Fruit Alliance.
The alliance includes Fruitways from South Africa, New Zealand’s Heartland, Montague Fresh from Australia and San Clemente from Chile.
“We are more advanced in the testing of the variety so we will first see the results, and we will contribute the most to the launch of the new brand,” Dichgans said.
When asked what sort of competition could be presented by another premium golden variety, Opal, Dichgans was complimentary about the fruit but stood behind the benefits of Yello.
“I think Opal is a wonderful variety with a completely different but aromatic taste, plus it is a variety with resistance against scab so it is a modern variety, and we have been evaluating both for us.
“For the moment, with all respect for Opal and the characteristics I already mentioned, we gave the top preference to Shinano Gold for all the reasons we’ve already said.”
Freshfruitportal.com was a guest of the Italian Trade Agency, which invited more than 80 buyers and journalists to the trade fair.