Yellow onions still ahead

Germany: 'Shallots and red onions have been growing for several years’

Until a few years ago, the German consumer resorted almost exclusively to yellow onions. Meanwhile, you can find more and more shallots, red onions and even mixed packs in the supermarket shelves. Nonetheless, the yellow onion continues to be at the top of the German food retailing market. That makes it difficult - for both producers and marketers - to differentiate.

The onion season is stable this year in terms of quantity, but sales barely cover the costs. The supply of stored goods is temporarily sufficient, at least as far as the normal onions up to caliber 70 is concerned. The oversized onions of caliber 70 mm are currently more expensive, notes Daniel Voll, managing director of Vau-Ge Voll GmbH in the Palatinate. 

The wholesale company mainly sells onions to packers, but also supplies onions to bulk consumers and the industry. “Since the availability of oversized onions is currently extremely low, prices are at a correspondingly higher level. The only ones who at the moment are happy about their onions are the Spanish growers with their larger products."

Onion pallets in the warehouse of Vau-Ge GmbH

Tough competition
According to the retailer, the German market is still well supplied with yellow onions up to caliber 70. However, these are also in greatest demand, even though the other varieties have been on sale for several years as well. Voll takes the shallots and red onions as an example. “Because of the many cookery programs on television, shallots and red onions are in greater demand because they are often shown there. The consumption is by no means comparable to that in France, but in the meantime one can find the shallots on the shelves of the German discounters as well. Previously, they were usually offered only at the full range. This also applies to white onions, which are a niche product that is almost exclusively bought by southerners. As for the rest, mixed packages with yellow, red and white onions are on offer.”

Trends are not only visible in the varieties and different colours, but also in the packaging. Currently, you have the so-called small packaging of 1, 2, 5 and 10 kg in Western European food retail. In addition, there are also nets of 250 and 500 grams on the shelves. As a rule, the German consumer prefers domestic goods, although especially in the spring (May-June) there is competition from foreign products. Daniel Voll: "There is a tough annual competition between German and overseas goods, from New Zealand for instance, which is in a higher price segment."

In the spring, Voll also sells foreign onions to bridge the two months in which there are hardly any German stored goods left. This so-called 'Bella Italia onion' he obtains from a contracted cultivator in the centre of the Italian growing region of Calabria. “This is currently a second-tier business that we could expand in the future.”

Traditional company
Vau-Ge Voll GmbH is a pure family business and has existed for over 50 years. The company is located in the heart of the Palatinate and is now run by the second generation. The wholesalers' clientele mainly consists of packers, wholesalers and industry, as well as regional retailers. In addition to the sorting and packaging of German and Italian onions, their range is supplemented by organic onions and seeds.

For more information:
Vau-Ge GmbH
Management: Michaela Voll, Martina Voll-Kailitz & Daniel Voll
Roxheimer Straße 24, 67240 Bobenheim-Roxheim
Telephone: +49 (0 62 39) 60 43
Fax: +49 (0 62 39) 31 96

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