Germany: Hard times for fruit and vegetable producers

After three difficult financial years, the mood among the fruit and vegetable producers of NGA EGC NORDBADEN EG in Bruchsal (OGA) is currently somewhat gloomy. After weather-related crop failures due to extreme wet and frosty conditions in 2016 and 2017 and difficult sales in 2018, the people of the organization are not very satisfied regarding their business performance. This was the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting on 20.11.2018 in Bruchsal, where the results of 2017 and 2018 were discussed, as well as current topics within the fruit and vegetable industry.

In the 2017 financial year, sales decreased to 41.1 million euros (previous year: 43.4 million euros) due to considerable frost damage. Together with affiliated sales organization OGV NORDBADEN EG, total revenues of EUR 62.4 million (previous year: EUR 62.5 million) were achieved in FY2017. Due to large harvests and the unsatisfactory price situation in the 2018 season, sales are expected to go down again in FY2018.

The company has two locations, in Bruchsal and Heidelberg, 116 affiliated companies in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and other federal states and is one of the most important suppliers of German fruit and vegetable food retailers. Within the assortment, the emphasis is on asparagus, strawberries and soft fruit, plums, apples, sweetcorn, pumpkin products and numerous other horticultural products.

Decline in acreage due to insufficient revenue situation
The 2017 expansion of the acreage and the bumper asparagus harvest in Germany -131,000 tons- as well as a similarly large harvest in 2018, showed the producers the limits of asparagus marketing nationwide. "Continued cost pressure, an unsatisfactory revenue situation in food retail and increasing problems with the availability of seasonal workers, are forcing many growers to reduce their acreage," said Hans Lehar, Managing Director of the UCI / OGV NORDBADEN EG.

In Germany, there are also changes with regard to strawberry cultivation. The acreage has already declined and domestic production has dropped to approx. 120,000 tonnes. Alternatives can be seen in protected tunnel cultivation, which is also suitable for other berry fruits, and is funded by the UCI. This enables an early, safe and continuous harvest as well as a more environmentally friendly production. However, this costly form of production has its price and requires support from retailers and consumers.

Cheapest food in Germany
Within the European Union, Germany is considered the country with the lowest food prices. German agricultural products and the German food industry have a strong image worldwide due to their high quality and safety standards. From the point of view of producers and farmers, consumers and society alike require a new  understanding of food values. "The best quality at the lowest price can not be sustained in the long run," says Hans Lehar, pointing to the current mood among the companies. The frequent promotional activities of the retail trade, which convey an image of "cheap food" through permanent special offers, are criticized. If an agricultural product made in Germany is to be desired in the future as well, the basic attitude towards food in society must change.

Image problem German agriculture
Also regrettable is the currently negative image of German agriculture, as it is seen by the public. The numerous interest groups and industry associations do not succeed in informing consumers about the great quality of German products and the work done by farmers and growers. Instead, agriculture is now blamed for many different environmental issues. "There is a lack of factual information, education and communication in the public sphere," says Hans Lehar, speaking critically about his own industry.

Successful cooperation with French PRIMLAND Group
The second year of cooperation with the French PRIMLAND Group, a cooperative network in the south of France, Portugal and Italy, and prime producer and marketer of French kiwi fruits. PRIMLAND uses the logistics platform OGA / OGV Bruchsal for the launch of its new kiwi berry product in the German market. In Bruchsal, the freshly harvested fruits are temporarily stored in the period from August to November, processed on behalf of PRIMLAND and then delivered to their customers throughout Germany.

For more information:
Hans Lehar
Industriestraße 1-3
76646 Bruchsal
Telefon 07251-8002-0

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