In Switzerland, the local summer vegetables are now slowly arriving in the market. Open field crops of all types, but also greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers are in the domestic scene. For the Dreyer AG, with its headquarters in Gerolfingen, they are trying to offer the classical company specialties -sauerkraut and beetroot- in the warmer seasons as well. Nonetheless, the processed products are particularly well received in winter. And this is why they should try to go in a new direction, says David Dreyer, a fourth generation manager of the family business that is more than a hundred years old.
Karin, David and Philipp Dreyer. David (middle) runs Dreyer AG as a 4th generation manager.
Regarding the current offer of Dreyer AG, at this time a priority is given to fresh vegetables, if possible from the surrounding growing region of Seeland. Among other things, locally cultivated greenhouse tomatoes are characterising the seasonal range. "Tomatoes are increasingly being cultivated in Switzerland, including colored tomatoes and Datterino tomatoes," says Dreyer about the current trend. Fresh merchandise is delivered primarily to regional gastronomers as bulk goods, in bulk containers. The processed products, such as sauerkraut and beet salad, are marketed throughout Switzerland."
The retailer sees clear differences between rural areas and big cities. "In big cities, the demand for organic products is much larger. Differences are also noticeable between the cities. In the closest town, Biel, the purchasing power is significantly lower than, for example, In Bern or Zurich."
A look at the assortment of Dreyer AG
Sauerkraut as a summer product?
Sauerkraut, pickled beetroot and other processed products have been the mainstay of the family business for many years. However, the Swiss-wide established products from the in-house production facility tend to only reach unfavorable sales volumes in spring and summer, Dreyer admits. "We try to present these products in the warmer seasons, via recipes for side dishes in the grill area. It's somehow in people's heads, somewhat old fashionedly, that sauerkraut is only a winter product. In principle, there is nothing against this product being is eaten raw, as a side dish."
The raw material comes from the surrounding Seeland vegetable gardens and is processed in the in-house production facility.
The classic peak season for the processed vegetable products usually starts in mid-September, when temperatures drop, lasting until the beginning of spring. In the past, the sauerkraut trade was the most important pillar of the company. At the moment, Dreyer AG tends to offer a larger range of fresh vegetables due to the increasing challenges. Dreyer: "I guess that the ratios between the two divisions are currently at 50-50%. Until a few years ago this was still 70-30%. Fresh vegetables are clearly on the increase, sauerkraut is dropping off a bit."
Long summer is 'worrying'
According to Dreyer, this is not just the result of a more limited interest of younger generations for this specialty, but with the noticeable climate change. "Last year, the weather did bode well for sauerkraut. It was much too warm until October, so consumption was worrying. In the end, we had almost too much raw material compared to sales, which is why inventories partially increased. This year we hope for enough moisture during cultivation. In early-mid-August we will start harvesting, hoping for an average autumn, without high temperatures, so that we can achieve normal sales."
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