p58 IT Melinda Evelina apple

Melinda, one of Europe's best-known fresh produce brands, is taking a step into the unknown. This season, thanks to a new commercial partnership with one of Italy’s largest export marketers, Naturitalia, its apples are on sale in Asia for the first time.

Unlike in its domestic market Italy or major export destinations like Germany, Melinda is far from being a household name in Asian countries. However, growing demand for high-quality, healthy fresh produce in the region offers the marketer an important chance to expand and diversify.

So, in the coming weeks and months, the brand is going to targeting markets like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan – the last three having only opened to imports of Italian apples this year.

“We believe the Asian market is one that can offer the right value to a premium brand like the one we have, and we expect that this market will require premium-quality products like Melinda, which of course will create economic benefit for our farmers,” explains marketing and communication manager Andrea Fedrizzi.

Even for a consortium as large as Melinda, with 4,000 growers producing half a million tonnes of apples every year and generating €300m in turnover, the need to open up new markets beyond Europe is shaping its commercial strategy.

On a recent visit to Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, the group’s general director Paolo Gerevini struck up a conversation with Augusto Renella, export coordinator and marketing R&D manager at Naturitalia, which soon led to the pair considering a potential partnership. Fast forward to this season and Melinda-branded apples are already on sale in the region.

“We believe this kind of approach will create value not only for our products and brand, but for Italian fruit in general in the future,” Renella tells Asiafruit. “We see urban population growth in Asia as an opportunity, because when it grows, large-scale distribution develops too. This is one of the main customers we want to reach.”

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