Oversupply leads to historically low prices

Germany: 'Quality standards in the leek business are very high'

The winter months are usually the peak season for leeks. However, compared to the autumn business, the market situation is still far from satisfactory. Although demand is okay, oversupply and historically low prices result in leeks being a very minor business activity for retailers and producers. A change in the market situation does not yet seem underway.

The current brokerage prices for leeks vary between 0.45-0.50 euros per kg, excluding all additional costs such as packaging, freight, etc. This is about 0.15 euros below the minimum price whereby the production costs can be covered in the currently difficult and wet conditions. This has to do with the high yields per hectare, says Stefan Hussnätter CEO of H. & F. Frischgemüse GmbH in Nuremberg. “We reckoned with 45 tons instead of the 60 tons which can actually be harvested. On the other hand, the trade in the classic food and discount sector is very aggressive with very high quality standards, since the market is oversaturated. The quality is also very good at the moment. Only in 4 to 6 weeks will we see the supply diminish due to the wet climate.”

Leek specialist Stefan Hussnätter exclusively markets regionally cultivated leeks

As examples of the quality requirements, he cites the very precise weight per piece of 200-300 grams, so that a kilo pack contains at most 4 or 5 pieces. Add to that the required cleanliness of the product. “You need good equipment and a corresponding staff. Leeks are a vegetable for which you have to invest a lot. You need a cleaning system and special harvesting machines. That does not make it easy for someone to say: tomorrow I will not grow leeks anymore.”

Compared to the previous year, this season growers are constantly operating below production costs. At that time, yields abroad were sometimes below average. Hussnätter: “In May and June of 2016 when the leeks were planted, it was very wet, in Belgium for instance. As a result, you later had less goods and were were of course much better off. The summer and autumn business in 2016 was also significantly better, so less goods were left over for the winter months. At the moment, however, the yields are large all over the Benelux and so there is no competition. As a result, prices are unlikely to change much.”

Leeks of the H. & F. Frischgemüse are characterized by nice packaging 

Outdoor vegetables
H. & F. Frischgemüse GmbH has been operating as an independent production and marketing company for almost 15 years. In addition to leeks, the product range also includes salads and various types of cabbage, such as the Lahana cabbage brand. The company is a larger outdoor vegetable production company with its own small affiliated marketing company and sells mainly regional goods in the Bavarian/Southern German region. Its clientele mainly consists of wholesalers and discount chains.

For more information:
H.& F. GmbH - Hußnätter Frischgemu¨se
Boxbergweg 9, 90427 Nu¨rnberg
Telefon: +49 911 938 55 86

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