Last week, the Dutch Fruit Growers' Organization's (NFO) Zeeland/North Brabant branch, and their Delta North division took a two-day study trip to Germany. On the second day, they visited Firma Schmitz-Hübsch. This company is based in the German region of Bornheim-Merten.
The company installed hail nets in 2002 already. Their farm store customers do not want damaged fruit either.
Firma Schmitz-Hübsch has been in existence since 1896. It has always been a fruit cultivation company. The company has 28 hectares of apples, 3,5 hectares of pears, and three hectares of cherries. At the moment, the family's fourth generation is at the helm - Roland Schmitz-Hübsch.
“Of our revenue, 95% comes from our farm store sales. The location for a farm store is ideal here. As many as 100,000 people live within a radius of about ten kilometers of us. We are located next to a thoroughfare which sees 15,000 cars per day," says Roland.
"Our farm store sales are going very well. This, despite the shopping center across the way. It has a Rewe and Aldi. We get about 800 customers per day. The shopping mall's arrival merely attracted more customers to our store. Our neighbor across the street sell far fewer apples than their other locations."
“We have customers for every size”
“Our production is not aimed at high yields, but flavor. Quality over quantity. We try to grow as few apples per tree as we can. This practice is to ensure the best-tasting apples. And it pays off."
"We get between €1,80 and €2,30 for a kilogram of apples. The size of the apples is not important to us. Small children would rather eat smaller apples compared to our older customers," Roland continues.
"We want to give our customers a great experience when it comes to flavor. That is why, during the season, we have 20 different apple varieties in the store. To help the customers along, we have a tasting table just inside our store. There, our customers can try out the apples from the assortment."
Customers can taste the different apples here.
25% of sales are processed products
The Firma Schmitz-Hübsch store is divided into two sections. One part is for the sale of their home-grown products. The other has other fruit and vegetables, bought in by the company. "We offer lots of processed products," says Roland.
"This is besides the apples, pears, and cherries we sell. These processed products include juices, apple sauce, and apple chips. These processed products make up 25% of our sales."
"We have tried to modernize the store as much as possible. We wanted to attract more young people, and it seems to have worked. We also do a lot of promotion on social media. During the harvesting season we give guided tours to nursery school classes too," he goes on to say.
The store currently has the last two apple varieties before the new season starts.
Farm store sales varieties
“New varieties are a big theme for us. Right now people are busy with club varieties. There must, however, also still be varieties for farm stores to sell. That is why we, along with our partners, have started an organization. This organization will focus on these varieties," concludes Roland.
Cherry season is currently in full swing.
The other fruit and vegetables in another part of the store.
Checking out the cherries.