Pre-cut herbs are currently more and more often coming in from the Mediterranean and Israel. At the same time, potted herbs from regional cultivation are still available in some places, at the POS. In Bornheim - not far from Cologne - fresh potted herbs from regional cultivation are distributed to wholesale customers as well as supermarket branches, even in winter. In this epicentre of herbal production prices, are also consistent prices, both in summer and winter.
Lots of top herbs in winter
The basic range of potted herbs, like basil, mint, marjoram, chives, oregano rosemary, thyme, sage, coriander, parsley, etc., are available at the Bornheimer wholesaler throughout the winter: "Soon, several herbs will be coming back, such as dill, chervil, shrub basil and various varieties of mint," explains owner Heinz-Josef Hönig. "Herbs are usually doing better in the supermarkets than in the retail sector, at this time of the year. But for resellers, the demand is a bit less due to the weather."
The quality of the current "winter products" leaves nothing to be desired at the moment and there are no complaints, says Hönig, who sources his potted herbs from a regional gardener with three different locations. The Bornheimer is currently in direct competition with Italian open-air products. "From a quality viewpoint, we can already keep up quite well, although the free-range product is usually a bit more stable. Because just as with lamb's lettuce, outdoor produce is more stable than greenhouse products, and less sensitive to cold. But that also varies from producer to producer. Even in summer there are large differences in quality. "
Year-round at a fixed price
Until 2016, the dedicated specialist dealer had his own sales booth at the Cologne wholesale market. Due to a lack of a successor, Mr. Hönig said goodbye to the wholesale market and dedicated himself entirely to the potted herbs trade. "With horticultural firm Johannes Dick from Bornheim I have a reliable, efficient and flexible supplier by my side. This makes it a relatively easy matter for me. Since then, the potted herbs business has grown and grown, as has its profitability. I've been working with the same producer for about 10 years now, with a total of three companies here in the district of Bornheim, and that works wonderfully."
In addition to the continuous flow of goods, a fixed price is required in summer and winter. This is a big advantage over other suppliers in the field of potted herbs. Hönig: "In the summer there are always regional providers who bring their goods to the market at lower prices, but this usually ends again in the fall. You also have to take into account the production costs: In the autumn you need a lot of electricity for heating and lighting, especially for basil."
Potted herbs as a growth market
Cologne's wholesalers and regional supermarket branches are still being supplied. Finally, in a niche segment such as potted herbs, regionality is a major selling point. "This is becoming increasingly important. For example, we supply Rewe shops within a radius of 60 km." There is still room for maneuver or further developments for the segment in terms of product presentation, according to Hönig. "At the moment, there are already experiments with four varieties in one pot, which are sold as one unit. To compensate for this, less of the previous standard product will be sold. Whether the total units sold will grow, is still unclear."
For more information:
Gartenbau Johannes Dick