VOG Products processed over 30,000 tonnes of organic fruit in the 2019/20 business year. Many factors, starting from the South Tyrol – Südtirol location and the partnership with Bioland, underlie the growing demand.
From 2017 to the present the organic percentage of the output of VOG Products, the modern, innovative fruit processing business in Italy’s South Tyrol – Südtirol region, has tripled. But why is interest in certified organic foods growing so strongly? The answer is apparently simple but actually implies a great deal more: because organic is added value.
“Customers identify it with a healthier product: people want to make a choice that’s good for them, for the environment they live in, and also for nature. This is certainly a trend, but for an ever-increasing number of people it’s more than that: a lifestyle and a new experience”, we are told by Martin Bristot, who works in the organic sector as Senior Key Account Manager at VOG Products.
An Organic brand also represents trust: VOG Products only purchases organic fruit from its members in Trentino-South Tyrol, mainly Bio Val Venosta and Bio Südtirol. “Through traceability back to the farmer, we are able to give the market a strong, clear signal: we know who grows our organic products with hard work and passion,” Mr Bristot confirms. “Since the European market’s two biggest organic producers are members in our owner cooperative, we enjoy preferential access to raw material. Basically, we are able to access supplies all year round.”
Through the partnership with Bioland, VOG Products takes another major step forward: almost all its organic raw materials also meet the Bioland standards. “The whole chain, starting from the farmers through the cooperative to VOG Products itself as processing company, is certified from A to Z, so the final product is certified, too”, Mr Bristot explains.
This label’s private law requirements are much more stringent than the criteria enforced by law on the EU’s biological label: farmers implement the seven Bioland principles, which also embrace the circular economy, biodiversity, and the maintenance of soil fertility to combat global warming. A Bioland farm has to operate in accordance with 100% environment-friendly standards, and the use of fertilisers and pesticides is also more strictly controlled. When it comes to processing, fewer than half the food additives approved under EU organic production regulations also meet the Bioland conformity criteria. In general, with Bioland, additives and auxiliary materials, processing methods, packaging, labelling and the quality guarantee are specifically tailored to each group of products, and tight restrictions are often imposed.
Over time, major food retailers have recognised its potentials and have brought their strategies into line with the Bioland standards. Once again, VOG Products benefits from its location in South Tyrol, the only province outside Germany to have a Bioland association.
The market is particularly receptive to pulps and fruit juices for children. “We are able to differentiate our products in order to satisfy even the toughest standards on organic foods for infants”, Mr Bristot adds.
VOG Products also benefits from members’ variety of products and forward-looking varietal strategy: “We can also offer an organic version of variety growers’ club apples such as Pink Lady. On request, we are even able to supply a single-variety product”.
Recently, demand for organic products has recorded constant growth, a trend of which VOG Products is well aware: although in the 2017/18 business year it processed only a little over 10,000 tonnes of organic produce, this volume rose to about 20,000 tonnes in 2018/19 and passed the 30,000 tonne mark in 2019/20. Output of organic apple pulp and juice more than doubled in the same period.
In the future, the added value of organic output will become more and more fundamental for VOG Products: in the years to 2023, the cultivated land used for organic production will be expanded by about 10% per annum.
VOG Products is an innovative company specialising in the processing of apples and other fruit. It is owned by 18 cooperatives in South Tyrol and Trentino and four producers’ organisations comprising over 13,000 family-run enterprises. Every year, VOG Products process more than 300,000 tonnes of raw goods to create healthy, safe products for the international market.