Ralf Gerths, D. Gerths Gemüsegroßhandel GmbH

"Dithmarscher carrots almost done, more and more cabbage every year"

The carrot campaign has been completed on the northern vegetables steppes of Dithmarschen. Other vegetable crops such as celery are slowly but surely running out. For the specialized dealers -like vegetable wholesaler Ralf Gerths, based in Oesterwurth- this is simply an opportunity to look back on the past season. FreshPlaza spoke with the experienced retailer about the current market situation, trends, and the future of northern open field cultivation.

For the management of the traditional Dithmarsch company, the daily business is slowing down due to seasonal reasons. The stocks are almost gone. For example, it packed and marketed the last regional carrots two weeks ago - there is no import of southern European goods. "Last year's heat wave was a major concern with regard to quality. In the end, the goods did hold up well," says Gerths. The prices were, however, not as good as people had hoped. It had expected a high-priced situation -similar to the cabbage prices- but in the end, not much happened. "The German market was expected to be low in volume. That's why contracts have already been concluded in advance, primarily in the Netherlands. As a result, sales in Germany, of both conventional and organic carrots, were normal to slightly below average."

Celery: End of the season is approaching
For many years, carrots have been the main product of Gerths, accounting for more than 40% of total goods turnover. In addition, all cabbage vegetables, leek, celery, turnips and onions and potatoes are being offered. "Celery from local cultivation is currently flowing out. At the end of this week, however, the harvest will have ended, after which these goods will be sourced from Holland. We also delivered celery until June, but it is not worthwhile - not least because of the new harvest in the Palatinate - not to offer stock celery at the time. "At the moment, the prices of local goods are around €0.45 -0.50 per kg compared to €0.75 for Dutch celery."

In the long term, the experienced trader sees some significant trends. One striking trend is the increasing demand for cabbage. "Acreage and sales have increased significantly in recent years." But not every new cabbage species prevails, Gerths comments. "We also cultivated Chinese cabbage for some years: this cultivation is very sensitive and susceptible to disease, which is why we had to stop it after several years."

The company's main location is in the heart of the northern Dithmarschen vegetable growing region. Cabbage cultivation in the north remains fairly stable, according to Gerths. "Some people stop, others expand their acreage. In that sense, the amount will remain about the same for the next few years."

Vegetable trade at the national level
Dorothea Gerths Gemüsegroßhandel GmbH is now run by Ralf Gerths and Ulf Zimmermann. From a supplier of regional food retailing and wholesaling, the company has developed into a national wholesaler. The German vegetable market is closely linked to the surrounding European growing areas. "This is noticeable by a constant pressure on prices, especially from Holland towards the Rhineland, as well as from Poland into the Greater Berlin area. We try to compensate this situation by a diversified customer structure, consisting of the food retailing as well as industrially processing vegetable enterprises and wholesalers. This allows us to respond individually and flexibly to the different needs of our customers."

For more information:
Dorothea Gerths Gemüsegroßhandel GmbH
GF: Ralf Gerths, Ulf Zimmermann
Poppenwurth 18
D-25764 Oesterwurth
Tel. +49(0)4833-45050
Fax: +49(0)4833-450518
e-Mail: info@gerths-gemuese.de 

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