The plum harvest in Rhineland-Palatinate is already well under way, but that of mirabelles is still only starting. A few days ago, the first fruits of the season were picked, says Jürgen Hattemer, Sales Manager of VOG Ingelheim eG. "The mirabelles are going to the retailers and are already being promoted in several chains. Due to weather conditions, Cacak's Schöne plums show a significantly lower yield. Only about half of last year's volume was reached.
Regional mirabelles for German food retail / Image: VOG Ingelheim eG.
This is particularly common for this variety after a dry, hot year like 2018. There will also be less fruits from the next variety: Auerbacher. "In Germany, plum production is forecast to be 40 percent lower than last year."
Jürgen Hattemer and Steffen Lang at last year's DOGK in Dusseldorf.
Plum prices tend to be higher due to these shortage. Sales volumes will therefore also be lower. "Consumers are already buying our produce, but not as much as usual. I also assume that the prices will rise as the season progresses, starting at the end of September at the latest."
Fresh mirabelles in the packaging plant.
Mirabelles in the snack segment
Nevertheless, the starting position, especially for mirabelle plums, looks quite good in the long term, explains Hattemer. "The mirabelle is certainly an interesting fruit in German trade". Nonetheless, there is considerable interest in the drupes, produced in Germany. This is partly related to the brand strategy. "Similar to the other stone fruits, we have acquired an interesting status in German trade with our own 'Mirell' brand. The next step is to place 350g punnets of mirabelles in the 'To Go' segment as well. I can certainly imagine that we will continue to expand this segment in the future."
Mirabelle plums are harvested in a short timespan.
Modern fruit varieties for the trade
For next year, there is talk of a further expansion of regional apricots. Because despite the wide selection of apricots of any origin, the local stone fruit is distinguished by its particularly great taste and coloration, says Hattemer. "Because of the costly and high-risk cultivation, we have of course a very different price setting compared to that for mirabelles, in order to make the production of these apricots will be worthwhile for the producers."
Regional plums of the 'Zwetty' private label.
The enormous variety within stone fruit is a given, but this continuous breeding also has a dark side. "For both apricots and mirabelles, with Orangereds and Nancy-Mirabelles we have ensured there are modern and tasty fruit varieties. Meanwhile, there are almost too many varieties of plums on the market; From year to year, some disappear and new ones are being added. But across the entire stone fruit segment, it is simply quite important for growers to be able to supply a fruit variety for each maturation window."