Exec meeting around blackcurrants in Austria
Blackcurrant history, Austria
While Austria grew around 4.000 tonnes of blackcurrants in the 1980ies, there are only 200 tonnes per year today. How it came to such a decline is not surprising, and reflects what is happening in many of the (former) big blackcurrant growing countries in Europe. With good prices, an easy and simple way to harvest blackcurrants, more and more growers took their chance to have their part of the cake in every country. And with the opening of the borders to Poland and the entry of Polish crop into the EU market, a big and powerful player entered the blackcurrant market. Austria did not wait and drew the consequences: there was no chance to win. Austria decreased its blackcurrant growing surface, and those who continued… changed, and turned their production into organic. This was in 1990.
Blackcurrants in Austria today
Today, almost all the blackcurrants in Austria are grown organically. Austrian blackcurrant growers thus have the longest experience in organic blackcurrant growing in the world on a large scale. Secondly, one of the biggest concentrate producers in the world has its origins and headquarters in Austria. This raised our curiosity in this country and was the starting point for our Exec meeting 2020.
4.000 tonnes of blackcurrants in Austria in the 1980ies, 200 tonnes per year today: Austria’s production declined, but some of the growers found a way to continue. They turned their production into organic in the 1990ies, and 95% of the whole yield is organic today. Most of the growers are in Styria, a hilly region in the South-East of Austria. The “Steirische Berrenobst-Genossenschaft” StBoG (Styrian Berry Cooperative) and its manager Stefan Lampl gave us an insight in their production.
We have met Franz Ennser, CEO of Austria Juice, at Agrana’s headquarters in Vienna. Not only because Austria Juice has been one of the longest partners of the IBA since its creation. But especially because he is an expert in the fruit juice business. His long-lasting experience and view of the whole market is always of help.
Gudrun and Franz Schriebl have adapted to the changing situation in Austria by investing in growing organic blackcurrants in Austria and selling their own products locally. Ribes is the name of their brand of organic fruit juices and other products, which they sell in their own farm shop. But not only: local supermarkets, restaurants and hotels are part of their customers.