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Sustainability is at the core of VIP strategies

Constant commitment of a dedicated manager and team

At the core of every VIP goal, project, strategy and action stands sustainability. In the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Cooperatives of Val Venosta, not a single decision is made or action undertaken without a thorough assessment of its environmental impact.

The actions undertaken in this direction - such as dripline irrigation system, self-produced energy through photovoltaic panels, evaluation of the ecological footprint, pollination with bees - are numerous and effective, but it is a mere support to the work that is carried out on a daily basis by VIP's original source of sustainability: the producers of the Consortium, who were the first apple growers to adopt the system of integrated agriculture together with the farmers of VOG and have been the main suppliers of organic apples in Europe for about 25 years.

The role that VIP assigns to sustainability, i.e. the guiding role in its work, is also evident in the decision to create a dedicated figure within the team, who is exclusively responsible for developing sustainability and making it a trait d'union between all departments of the company. This is how the function of Sustainability Manager, currently held by Viktoria Alber, was introduced into the VIP team. Every month, the manager brings together the heads of the various departments (quality, production, sales, purchase, marketing) to take stock of the realisation of the sustainability-themed projects undertaken and the commissioning of new ones.

The collaboration of Alber and the various departmental managers involved in dedicated meetings has resulted in a true "sustainability team", which in recent years has developed and carried out multiple projects in close cooperation with the producers and cooperatives. These range from increasing the percentage of irrigation of the apple orchards using dripline irrigation systems (the aim is to increase this from the current 58% to 80% in 2026) to increasing the share of self-produced energy through photovoltaic panels installed in the Consortium's cooperatives (increased by 12% in the last three years), as well as calculating the ecological footprint of the production of each individual apple, collecting and processing data from the individual cooperatives and declaring the ecological measures implemented in a given period.
Zero food waste is also a key issue for VIP and the apple growers. Over 50 years ago, the South Tyrolean fruit industry founded its own producer organisation for the processing of industrial apples. Here, apples that do not meet market requirements in terms of colour and size are processed into concentrate, apple juice or puree, in order to minimize waste and at the same time guarantee the creation of added value.

Another of the team's initiatives led to the creation of the so-called "bee pasture" at Monte Sole in Laces, which saw VIP apple growers and beekeepers in the valley working closely together. A three-year project in which thousands of small trees and shrubs of 22 different species were planted, all "bee-friendly": it allows bees to find pollen and nectar to fill the period between the blossoming of the apple orchards.

Equally important to VIP is social sustainability. Among the activities conducted by the Consortium in this direction, an important role is played by support for local amateur sports clubs, the sports group for the physically disabled in South Tyrol and various recreational projects throughout Val Venosta. Just a few days ago, the “interactive Apple Walk” was opened in the municipality of Parcines together with the local tourism association.

Having a person who has an overview of the initiatives and can devote herself exclusively to them is an added value. The Sustainability Manager states: "Sustainability projects are established in a concerted way during regular meetings, then they are carried out by me. It is crucial that each manager is present and makes his or her personal contribution. In VIP, sustainability, like any achievement, comes from teamwork.


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