In the pre-Corona period, the uncertainties around the relocation of the market was the main topic of discussion at the Cologne wholesale market. Within a very short time, this changed completely and currently it is the Corona crisis that is overshadowing day-to-day business, instead of the sluggish location negotiations. But the state of emergency is also having a positive effect on the wholesale market, says Abdessalem Najar, Managing Director of Zündorf & Zerres LLC.
"The importance of the wholesale market is becoming apparent now. Due to the difficult procurement situation, the supply of daily needs is once again largely dependent on the wholesale market. This has definitely led to a revival of the wholesale market."
At the stand of the well-established wholesale company, there is much activity every night, even in times of Corona, confirms Mr. Najar. "We are very busy even during the crisis: We are hardly affected by the closure of the restaurants, as our clientele mainly consists of food retail customers and specialist retailers. Gastronomers now account for around 5 percent of our total clientele," says the fruit wholesaler, who is now also partly serving private customers with fresh fruit and vegetables during the crisis.
Scarcity of air freighted fruit
Until now, the fluctuations in the market have been extraordinary. "We witnessed, of course, the hoarding at the end of March. That meant a lot of activity. Since the beginning of this week, the market seems to have stabilized somewhat and we are now getting the regular daily orders again."
Nevertheless, the consequences of the exceptional situation were still being felt at product level. "Since the beginning of the crisis, we have noticed a shortage of air freighted goods - like mangos and papayas - due to the restriction of air traffic. We are still receiving deliveries, but only very small quantities. This has led to a considerable price increase of up to 30 percent for all air cargo fruit."
Price increase for premium tomatoes
Further price increases were reported in the premium tomato segment, one of the specialties of Zündorf & Zerres. Najar: "All tomato specialities from Brittany are now traded at high prices. We are observing a price increase of up to 25 percent. So far there have been no bottlenecks - with the exception of fruit that is flown in. And we can still supply citrus, currently a popular product, in sufficient quantities."
All in all, the fruit wholesaler draws a positive conclusion for his own company and for the wholesale market in general. "Our turnover is estimated to be 30 percent above normal levels. In addition, confidence in the wholesale market has increased significantly. From the small shops to weekly market traders to food retail outlets; everyone now shops at the wholesale market. This means the wholesale market site has once again been able to establish itself as the hub of the regional fresh produce supply."