Three of Italy’s leading apple suppliers have embarked on a new joint venture designed to boost sales of smaller fruit, the aim being to market them as convenient and perfect for snacking.
Called Snacking Project, the partnership sees the launch of a new consortium involving Piedmont-based company Rivoira and the South Tyrolean firms Vip and Vog.
Together, they plan to develop the market for small varieties, embarking on their first tasting tests during October.
Those tests will involve a sweet and crunchy yellow-skinned apple that was harvested at the end of August and is said to be perfect for consumption in the autumn and winter months.
All three companies say they see the so-called ‘snack apple’ market as a particularly promising new commercial avenue.
The natural size and shape of these fruits, they observe, make them ideal for consumption as snacks, for munching on between meals, when travelling and during short breaks, but also perfect for eating at school as tasty and healthy alternatives to calorie-packed, highly processed foods.
“Working together so we can look to the future and innovate is essential and this is borne out by the birth of this new entity,” said Thomas Oberhofer, chairman of VIP and now also Snacking Project.
“We want to guarantee our consumers the possibility of enjoying high-quality yet innovative apples that are perfect at all times of day and whatever they are doing, whether they are at home or out.”
The partnership itself dates back to 2017, when they began working together with French R&D specialist IFO to scope out new types of apple.
That collaboration gave them exclusive access to a number of new varieties, including a selection of naturally small apples.
“We are very proud of this partnership with three leading Italian producers in the apple-growing sector,” comments Bruno Essner, chairman of IFO. “We are convinced that it is a project with solid foundations; we have managed to obtain naturally small and particularly tasty apples thanks to years of research involving our best professionals. The exclusive license granted to Snacking Project is concrete proof of our belief in these three companies and their work teams.”
After the initial agreement, Rivoira, Vip and Vog secured an exclusive joint license for the varieties regarded as most interesting for commercial development.
“We are very happy with this first step and now we have to look to the future with energy and optimism because this is a long-term project”, commented Georg Kössler, chairman of Vog.
Following in-depth tests on a dozen or so selections identified by the breeding project, the first variety was chosen for commercial production, prompting the creation of a separate company to oversee the project.
Marco Rivoira, chief executive of Rivoira, says the coming weeks will be crucial in terms of its future success: “The project is now in full swing and the most delicate phase is about to begin with the first major market tests in October, thanks to the first few thousand kilos harvested this year in Piedmont and South Tyrol. We are ready and are making swift progress thanks to a precise business plan.”
Presented in in-line flowpacks, the first limited volumes will be available to consumers at selected points of sale.
It is expected that other red and bi-coloured varieties will be added to the range in future, as well as late-season apples and those suited to longer storage periods.
Ultimately, said the project founders, the aim is to guarantee customers a wide and complete range of snack apples throughout the year.