Photo report of the wholesale market Dortmund:

Germany: Full-range wholesalers aiming at regional gastronomy and retail

Traders on the Dortmund wholesale market are largely characterized by full-range wholesalers and a great variety. Most of the 12 wholesale companies and importers offer the full range of products, from local vegetables to citrus fruits and Dutch greenhouse products. The medium-sized enterprises mainly supply retailers, weekly marketers, restaurants and large consumers such as hospitals and homes, as well as snack bars and canteens in urban areas. Although sales volumes for direct purchasing in the food retailing industry have been declining significantly for years now, the wholesalers are quite satisfied. With a solid clientele and a diverse range of products, the remaining companies are still able to cope well.

For almost 100 years, the 1922 wholesale market Dortmund has been there on the Heiliger Weg, east of the city center. The fresh produce market experienced its high point in the second half of the 20th century when the marketplace steadily expanded; in the early 1990s it was equipped with a modern waste disposal system as well as a water and electricity supply. However, in the last 15 years, the number of wholesale companies has declined due to direct purchasing and the competition of other fresh produce centers in the Ruhr area.

The shift and today's situation
With a new group of customers and a shift towards a full range rather than individual specialties, the wholesale center has so far managed to survive. This certainly has to do with the presence of the meat and fish traders, which is why the Grossmarkt Dortmund eG is in a position to offer the complete range of goods. As a result, regional catering and retail companies, who constantly want to offer a mixed product range, remain interested. The existence and sustainability of the wholesale market seems to be temporarily secured. Furthermore, the import company VanWylick and the REWE supplier Doega are also located on the wholesale market.

The entrance to the wholesale market area

Nevertheless, there is uncertainty and anxiety about the coming years on the Dortmund wholesale market. Various market companies are in a state of flux, with the old generation gradually withdrawing from management. Since there is no succession from within the family, family enterprises are taken over more and more frequently by employees or even new managing directors. Thus, the classic wholesale businesses, which have always existed, disappear from the Dortmunder Großmarkt scene. The same goes for Matthias Hartmann - Managing Director of the company of the same name - who after 35 years will say goodbye to the wholesale market on 1 February. Two of his employees will take over the wholesale business soon. “Up until 10-15 years ago it was still fun. Due to the dominance of the leading chains it became more and more difficult after that. It will be okay for six or seven years from now, but after that I barely see any future,” says Hartmann.

Even in the middle of the night the wholesalers are always in a good mood

His colleague Martin Stock - owner of Heinz Stock - shares this opinion. "Our problem is that people spend less and less on food. There is no real appreciation. There are many cooking programs, but it does not matter to the consumers.” CEO Heinz Karstner of the Gottschalk company is still positive: "We are still satisfied. My succession is also secure: my son-in-law and my daughter will continue the company.”

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