A fruitful story from Ryfylke

Ryfylke is and has been Rogaland’s foremost fruit and berry region. Ryfylke is a district in Rogaland which includes the island and fjord areas north and east of Boknafjorden, as well as the islands in Boknafjorden. Fruit growing in Ryfylke has long traditions, and can be documented to have been practiced in the region for hundreds of years.

Ryfylke – the orchard in the food region Rogaland!

It was mostly apple cultivation that was invested in in the beginning, but the apple varieties at that time did not suit the climate in Ryfylke very well. Many therefore switched to pear and plum cultivation. During and after the war, there was great demand and good times for fruit farmers, but gradually import restrictions on fruit were lifted and competition with foreign fruit became tougher. This was a challenging time for the fruit farmers, and many chose to switch to other production such as milk and meat. There was a dramatic decline in fruit production in Ryfylke from approx. 1960 to approx. 1980.

After a stagnation in fruit growing, there is a significant growth in Ryfylke from approx. 2014. The growth is due to several factors, including new cultivation methods, new apple varieties, increased volume, increased knowledge, and the establishment of apple juice and apple cider production. Increased investment by the State Administrator in Rogaland and Innovasjon Norge also contributed positively to this development. The foundation of Ryfylkefrukt SA and the opening of a new and modern fruit packing plant in Årdal in 2017 has also played a central role together with an open fruit environment, good cooperation, knowledge sharing and a number of enthusiasts and pioneers.

According to Kari Sand, rural developer in Ytre Ryfylke, she wants to highlight human capital as the most important reason for their success, and places special emphasis on this with openness and knowledge sharing. There are many who have had a great influence on this positive development, but some have gone in the breeze, and should be mentioned:

  • Golf Gartneri, Ombo: Roald Voll and Marianne Kåsen are two of those who have invested heavily in fruit, and today have one of Norway’s most modern orchards.
  • Andreas Kvame is a fruit pioneer and started early with new cultivation of 50 acres of apples.
  • Geirmund Helgøy has been a pioneer in morel and tunnel cultivation.

There is an increased optimism in the industry, and several fruit farmers are today investing in both new cultivation and conversion to new cultivation methods. According to the State Administrator in Rogaland, fruit production in the region was just over 300 tonnes per year until 2016. The calculations for 2021 show 750 tonnes.

There are a number of challenges for the future and further growth, and the most important is probably still the competition with imported fruit. It is therefore a strategy to be able to extend the season through new varieties and new storage techniques, and focus on a market strategy that can lead to increased demand in the market. Good quality, sustainable production and short-distance food are important concepts for consumers in 2022, but knowledge of Norwegian fruit is unfortunately rather poor among most people. Therefore, it has become important with good labeling and good interaction with other players in the value chain to succeed in the market in the future.

Beskyttet geografisk betegnelse and investment in processing

The project «Eple frå Ryfylke» and application for beskyttet geografisk betegnelse is an important part of this strategy.

The knowledge about different varieties and seasons is unfortunately often deficient among both customers and store employees, and the customer usually has a bad time to find out about different products. Then simple communication between the product and the customer becomes important, and this is where the brand project has its strength. This is a logo that will tell that the apple is from Ryfylke, and that this is quality assured through public approval and separate regulations.

Ryfylke is also experiencing strong growth in fruit processing, and more and more people are investing in juice- and cider production. Several manufacturers have established themselves, and some have excelled both nationally and internationally. Grønvik Gard for best apple juice (nationally) and Apal Sideri for the world’s best cider in the Cider World Award 2020.

TEAL is enthusiastic and engaged in the growth and development that takes place in connection with fruit and berry production in the region, and has played an active role for many years (then under the name Ryfylke Næringshage). Mobilization project for local food producers in Ryfylke, project responsibility to make the Ryfylke region clearly visible on Gladmat, fruit and berry collection in the business park with Kari Sand, the brand project Eple frå Ryfylke and målbedriftsavtale with Apal Sideri are just some of the activities TEAL has been involved in. TEAL is located in the middle of the fruit plate and is a proud supporter of Ryfylke and Rogaland as one of Norway’s most important food regions.

Flere nyheter