The underground cellars, a natural refrigerator in the heart of the Dolomites
The quality that all consumers recognise in Melinda apples is also the result of the privileged place where they are stored while waiting to be marketed worldwide; namely, the underground cells, a real natural refrigerator created in the Rio Maggiore Mine, in the heart of the Dolomites, at a depth of 300 metres, under the roots of the apple trees cultivated on the surface. Today, the Consortium of the Non Valley has 34 underground caves, which make it possible to store no less than 30,000 tonnes of fruit in an environmentally sustainable manner. This facility is the first and only one of its kind in the world for cold storage of fruit in an underground environment.
Low energy consumption
Storing apples in the underground cells provides several advantages in both economic and environmental terms. First, it allows CO2 emissions to be cut down, reducing electricity consumption by around 1.9 GW/h compared to normal above-ground storage. In fact, once the rock is cooled, it manages to naturally maintain its temperature for a long time.
In the underground cells, no water is wasted, as the water used for cooling the machines does not evaporate but is put back into circulation.
Preservation of the territory
This “natural cellar” is a perfect example of circular economy. Not only does it provide for the reuse of underground cavities created by ongoing mining activity, but it also avoids the construction of new warehouses on the surface, eliminating negative impact on the landscape. Therefore, Melinda’s supply chain exists in perfect harmony with the land.
No insulating material
The underground cells are dug into a rock mass of Dolomia, a very compact rock that is impermeable to water and gases, characterised by a constant temperature all year round and a controlled atmosphere, different from the one on the surface: these attributes ensure optimal and natural preservation of fruit. The rock is a natural insulator so there is no need of insulating panels.
The Melinda Consortium is one of the most important Italian apple producers, and among the main European players in the fruit and vegetable market. With its 400,000 tonnes of apples produced in Trentino per year in the Non and Sole Valleys, equal to about 20% of the national average production, it represents 4,000 family farms consortium members in 16 cooperatives that cultivate a total of about 6,700 hectares of apple orchards. In addition, the consortium provides employment opportunities for more than 1,300 employees, generating an important economic spin-off for many local companies, 70% of which remain invested in the region. Moreover, on the consumers’ side, the Melinda brand boasts 99% recognisability in Italy, thanks to the famous ‘Bollino Blu’ (Blue Seal), applied only to fruit with unique aesthetic and organoleptic characteristics, cultivated according to the Integrated Production regulations, and preserved, selected and packaged according to the strictest national and international certification standards.