This year's cabbage campaign has long since begun in Switzerland's major growing regions. White and red cabbage heads have been harvested industriously for weeks: The season has now also begun for Schöni Swissfresh AG, one of the leading manufacturers of sauerkraut and processed vegetable products for the Swiss retail trade. Despite the difficult market environment and a decline in sales of the classic vegetable specialty, the family-owned company continues to look favorably towards the future. "We are optimistic that sales of sauerkraut will stabilize again in a few years."
Impressions of the cabbage harvest / Image: Schöni AG
At the beginning of the season, this year's crop forecasts are usually on everyone's lips: an average white cabbage harvest is expected, roughly similar to the previous year. The red cabbage yield will be lower, according to today's forecasts. Losses through unfavorable weather had already been reported by the managers of the family business based in Oberbipp (Oberaargau, Canton of Bern). "Across the entire product range, we have been able to increase our quantity slightly thanks to innovations and new products. Sauerkraut is obviously a seasonal product. However, the consumer price generally remains roughly the same, with the consumer price of a special recipe (wine-sauerkraut or similar) being about CHF 1 to CHF 3 per kilo higher than the classic sauerkraut. "
Traditional packaging concepts
Although consumer needs tend towards smaller portions and pack sizes, the classic 500g bags are still the most popular in sauerkraut, the company observes. "Although the younger consumer is responding to new designs and dosage forms, as the sauerkraut patrons are in the upper age groups, the industry sometimes stays loyal to traditional packaging concepts. What is being tested is packaging with a lower ecological footprint. "We are in constant contact with our suppliers in this regard."
BBQ-Kraut: A summery alternative for the future?
BBQ-Kraut: potential available, but difficult shelf placement
Extensive research by the Swiss Association for Vegetable Producers revealed that 94 percent of Swiss still consider sauerkraut to be a traditional product. At the same time, 60 percent of Swiss consumers consume only at certain seasons or in autumn and winter. Summer items are the BBQ cabbage (chili or onion) launched a few years ago. "The revenue share is still low, but with positive development. At the launch, we realized how crucial the right shelf placement is for these new products. It is an article that must be presented in the context of seasonal grill themes and meat, but there is typically no space for sauerkraut concepts.
Some products in the Schöni assortment
Market leader in vegetable processing
Schöni Swissfresh AG is a family business with a 100-year history, which is managed in 4th generation. The vegetable producer is a firm supplier to Swiss food retailers, specialist retailers (wholesalers, butchers, etc.) as well as to catering and industry. Approximately 10,000 tons of raw materials per year are processed, of which 90% are vegetables. Its market share in the sauerkraut segment currently amounts to around 70 percent of the Swiss market. The company's perennial favorites have always been sauerkraut, turnips, red cabbage and applesauce, with raw, unpasteurized, fermented products making pleasing progress and attracting new shoppers.