Melinda: The First Italian Designer Apple
Behind the Melinda brand created in 1989, is a Consortium of some 5.200 members of 16 cooperatives, who harvest 300,000 tons of apples every year, which represent over 60% of apple production from the Trentino region, 10% of the Italian production and 5% of the European.
The need for an apple brand, became apparent at the end of the 1980s, when the fruit growers of the Val di Sole and Val di Non realized that, on the Italian fruit market, there were three times as many apples known as "Val di Non Apples" than the real quantity produced in the said valleys. Hence, the producers decided to come together under a common brand name. These were many small-scale local producers used to practicing the same production techniques, already organized into agricultural cooperatives with advanced packaging techniques.
The fruits to be produced by this new Consortium, for which the brand name "Melinda" was chosen, would have both qualitative and aesthetic characteristics. Only with these special characteristics the fruits would see their value increased by adding the label with the brand. Moreover, the Consortium would produce and put on the market only and exclusively apples.
This new strategy, uniting the fruit growers, made them give up their own individual identity for a common brand, which proved to be more convenient on the market.
A Logo Made in England
The producers, after a comprehensible perplexity, accepted willingly the collective mark challenge, reassured by the fact that the policies on management and development of the cooperatives remained in their hands. In fact, the customers were immediately well disposed towards the new product, and quickly recognized the quality and environmental care linked to the integrated production process used by the producers of the valley.
The first sign chosen as a trademark was a handmade designed bee. When the market declared the success of the business, they asked the London agency Minale and Tattersfield, a well-known company in industrial packaging, to create the logo which is still being used today.
With the creation of the mark, many opportunities arose as well as many problems. First of all, the necessity to increase the homogeneity of the quality of Melinda apples. In order to standardize production, the producers of the sixteen cooperatives that formed the Melinda Consortium established a strict regulation which all its members need to respect in order to use the famous Melinda brand on their apples. To give a further guarantee to the consumers, they adhered to the disciplinary production protocol created by A.P.O.T. (the Trentino Fruit and Vegetables Producers Association), to be subject to the control and the advice of E.S.A.T. (the Trentino Agricultural Development Authority) and of the Agricultural Institute of S.Michele all'Adige.
The integrated agricultural production techniques are generally aimed at reducing chemical processing and at substituting it with natural biological rhythms so as to provide the most authentic production, which at the same time respects and preserves the environment in the interest both of producers and consumers. In particular, the regulation created by the A.P.O.T., underlines the importance of environmental balance and of biodiversity: the use of harmonious manuring, the right spacing of plants, special techniques for pruning, irrigation and scattering of the fruits.
The Consortium Today: 16 Cooperatives and over 5,000 Members
Today, the members of the sixteen cooperatives that formed the Melinda Consortium ten years ago, are 5.200. The Consortium form is quite recent, as it comes from the community regulation Cee 2200/96, but the brand and the connected idea date back to 1989. Over the past ten years, Melinda has been able to put together the traditional activity and vocation of the Val di Non and Val di Sole, with the evolution of an increasingly competitive market, combining commercial, human, environmental and technical factors for a quality product with a distinctive identity, reputation and image in the domestic and export market.
Last year, the Melinda Consortium produced 300.000 tons of apples (the average of the last few years was between 250.000 and 300.000 tons). The financial turnover of the Melinda Consortium varies now between 130 and 150 million Euro per year. While the Italian market continues to show a good capacity of absorption, in the last two years a stronger impulse has been given to exports which have reached 10% of total production.
For more information on the Melinda collective mark and the Melinda Consortium, see: http://www.melinda.it.
More information on collective marks in general is available at: http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/ip_business/collective_marks/collective_marks.htm