Producers in Germany and across Europe face increasingly stringent consumer policies and criticism. At the same time, trade is exerting pressure on prices, and so in many places vegetable growers have had to give up their businesses. For others the existential crisis is still pressing. It is important to sell your goods on the market, through special concepts and new products. Johannes Dick, producer of potted herbs from Bornheim, chose this path for himself.
"I want to sell potted herbs against the background of my business philosophy - robust herbs, with no price wars," explains Dick. That is not always easy. Now he wants to break new ground, convincing consumers of the product "potted herbs" again, simply through his own concepts.
"The cheap goods you get from the supermarket are cultivated under ideal conditions in the greenhouse, and these conditions are lacking during the transport, in the stores and even on your windowsill, so the goods are often bad as soon as you get them home." This has a negative effect on the acceptance of the product: "People then think potted herbs are bad, and no longer look at where they come from. This I want to counteract. My herbs grow in the field and are robust - they can even stand temperatures in the minus range easily." This means the plants have better tolerances for environmental influences throughout the entire supply chain, asserting their durability compared to classic greenhouse products.
However, shelf life is not the only factor that affects Johannes Dick's herbs: "Sustainability is also a big factor, as we almost completely forego the use of extraneous energy and we only protect the plants from the effects of the weather with film tunnels or non-wovens, and only if absolutely necessary."
He has to make an exception for basil still. With these herbs, some heating cannot be avoided. However, he is working on the acceptance of other varieties that do not have the typical appearance, but the same taste and a better cold tolerance. "This way of growing is a plausible way to get more sustainable and higher-quality products in many ways, but it's not that much cheaper." The plants grow out slower and less evenly outside, which requires more care. The height of 16cm as is required by the food retailer can not always be achieved.
"This trade requirements are hard to achieve, and they are hardly acceptable,. The majority of this height is just the stem of conventional herbs, and I do not think it's right to fool consumers." This is one of the principles that Dick wants to fight for.
The horticulture and vegetable industry is in crisis: "The requirements of the trade and the simultaneous price pressures are no longer sustainable.And there is no solidarity among the producers, because everyone has to fight for survival. It is all about quick deliveries, a complaint rate of zero and producer cooperatives that act in the interests of producers less and less often."
Now, Johannes Dick has developed a concept with which he tries to break away from mass-produced goods, as a stand-alone producer. "We offer four different types of herbs in a single pot, which is ideal for small households that are becoming more and more common in Germany, so you can still process different herbs fresh and end up with less waste."
In addition to the smaller household size, the growing diversity in the kitchen is also a trend that Dick addresses with his herbal mix: "There is our '4 for' range in various themed mixes, including salad, cuisine, Mediterranean and Asia." The Teku Blue pots are packed in environmentally friendly paper bags. "We already supply some supermarkets directly and hope that in the coming year we will be able to launch a solid list with stable, sustainable prices."
In order to achieve this, he continues to build on the close cooperation between trade and producers: "A grower knows his own product best, knows what kind of work goes into the production and how much value the work has." In mutual communication with sales representatives, the producers will find the compromises that allow both sides to thrive."