Ahmed Bouklata (Kräuter Express) on the market situation for herbs

"The restaurant business still has a long way to go"

The herb market has only felt the direct consequences of the Corona crisis to a limited extent. Nevertheless, the precautionary measures and social distancing rules will continue to affect sales of potted and semi-harvested herbs in the catering trade to a certain extent even after the crisis, says Ahmed Bouklata, a specialist supplier at the Cologne wholesale market and owner of Kräuter Express LLC, shortly before the reopening of the regional catering trade. 

According to Bouklata, the sudden absence of the gastronomy sector has also made itself felt in the herb trade. "We have 30% less turnover than usual. Meanwhile, sales in the areas of weekly market trading and retail trade have increased significantly," he said. In the spring - from about March onwards - mainly pot herbs are sold in pleasing quantities. "Unfortunately, the margins in this area are not so large. I also have the feeling that sales will decline somewhat from the beginning of May, partly because of the high degree of consumer self-sufficiency."

Ahmed Bouklata at his Cologne wholesale market stand during FreshPlaza's visit there in the summer of 2019. 

Pre-cut herbs: Domestic and imported goods trade in parallel
In addition to pot herbs, cut herbs are traded under the own brand Kräuter Express. "The domestic season is now slowly getting underway and I expect to be able to supply the full range from domestic cultivation in the course of next week." Basil is the most popular item in the complete range (pre-cut and potted herbs).

The assortment is supplemented with cut herbs from Spain, Italy and Ethiopia. "Ethiopian goods are available all year round, even though German goods are available in abundance. Even in these difficult times of crisis we receive weekly fresh deliveries from local cultivation. Naturally, the quantities are 40-50 percent lower during the domestic season than in winter, when hardly any German goods are available," Bouklata explains. 

Apart from potted and pre-cut herbs, cresses are the company's third mainstay of sales. In this area, too, sales are down by 30-40%. 

Reopening of the gastronomy industry
From week 20 onwards, the regional gastronomy industry will gradually reopen its doors, Bouklata knows. For his company, this is an important first step for the normalization of the market happening. "But we are cautious, as the reopening is accompanied by strict restrictions and rules on social distancing. Therefore, we will not achieve the same turnover in the coming months as before. There is definitely still a long way to go."

For more information:
Kräuter Express
Inh. Ahmed Bouklata
Am Lichtweg 42
41470 Neuss
Tel: +49 221 937262 86
Fax: +49 221 937 262 87
Mobile: +49 177 745 7395

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