Every year, there are a lot of insolvency applications and new registrations in the German fruit and vegetable trade. For Stella Rasmussen - a young, passionate entrepreneur with Kenyan roots - 2019 was the first full business year. Her LLC -that bares the same name- mainly sells legumes, but also chillies, herbs and fruit exotics from small-scale Kenyan cultivation. This ambitious trader reported on the current season and the long-term marketing potential for Kenyan fresh products.
Examples from the current product catalogue
The trademark of the company, which was founded in 2018, is to offer fresh products directly from the origin -under its own label- on the European market. In order to ensure a smooth supply chain, Ms Rasmussen is not only responsible for the final marketing in Europe, but also for the cultivation and preparation process at the source. "In addition to my company, which is based in Meerbusch, we have our own cultivation and packaging operation in Kenya. As I live and work in Germany for the most part, I understand the culture and business processes in both countries. This is a great advantage in this industry, because reliable quality management from cultivation to air transport is ultimately decisive".
Babymais is also marketed as air cargo in Europe.
Good marketing opportunities in the Netherlands
Although this trader has only been self-employed for a good one and a half years, she has already managed to establish contacts in many European countries and to serve several sales markets. With her main product, pulses, she has so far been able to convince bulk buyers in France and Germany. "The demand on the respective sales markets fluctuates continuously. It is therefore difficult to predict how the market will develop in the long term. Based on current sales, I see good marketing opportunities in the Netherlands. At product level, demand for sugar snap peas and peas is slightly ahead of the demand for beans."
Basil in protected cultivation
Floods on the fields
At the moment, the company is still experiencing the peak season for pulses and herbs. In recent weeks, there has been persistent alarming news regarding the weather in the East African country. Even the contract fields of the young company have not been spared by the floods, Rasmussen confirms. "The current season had progressed quite well until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the heavy rainfall has affected the majority of our fields. The weather has led to a loss of quality in the sugar peas and sugar snap peas, which is why there has ultimately been less product for packaging and therefore also for marketing."
Nevertheless, the weather-related harvest losses did not lead to an early end to the season, Rasmussen claims. "There will be a short rest period in the trade directly after Christmas. However, we expect marketing to pick up again in the course of January."
Fresh beans are sorted, processed and packed on site in Kenya.
Assortment expansion and second-class products
Despite the ups and downs of the past year, the trader is generally positive about the future. The company's long-standing goal, she says, is to put the experience and feedback gained to date into practice: "We are striving to expand our product range step by step, now that we have noticed that our existing customers attach importance to an expanded product range. Kenya is a fertile country in whose fields a wide range of fruit and vegetable varieties can be grown: So there are several opportunities to further exploit this export potential."