Local sauerkraut was extremely popular in the early weeks of the Corona crisis. "In March and April, we sold vast quantities of sauerkraut. In the meantime, however, the market situation in Switzerland has stabilised to some extent," says David Dreyer, co-managing director and 5th generation of the Seeland production and trading company, looking back on the exceptional situation to date.
According to Dreyer, the increased demand for sauerkraut cannot be simply explained. "At the beginning of the Corona crisis, people preferred to look for regional and durable products. Sauerkraut is therefore an ideal product and is also particularly inexpensive," explains the expert who serves the Swiss trade with sauerkraut and sour beets from his own production. "The last time we sold similar quantities was during the Chernobyl disaster," he adds.
Dreyer AG's regional white cabbage suppliers have been able to plant the early varieties despite the shortage of harvesters. Management expects the first regional processed cabbage to be harvested in mid-July - about two weeks earlier than usual.
60% drop in sales in the catering trade
In contrast to the Swiss retail trade, there had been a massive drop in sales in the domestic catering trade. Dreyer: "Our activities in this business segment have decreased by 60 percent. However, the first relaxation is currently taking place and, in addition to take-away and delivery services, the first visitors are now being welcomed back to the restaurants. Now we have to see to what extent the liquidity of Swiss restaurateurs is maintained".
Karin, David and Philipp Dreyer manage the Seeland family business together.
The future: Booming farm shops, increased hygiene standards
In recent months, the purchasing behaviour of the Swiss has changed completely. "The farm shops have boomed dramatically. Fortunately, we already had a loyal customer base in this area. But I am curious whether people will continue to shop in the farm shop after the crisis", Dreyer asks himself.
In autumn 2019, the Dreyer AG sauerkraut assortment was expanded by two new varieties. The purpose of the new product line is to place sauerkraut as a barbecue side dish. The so-called "Delikatess-Kraut" from Dreyer has already established itself in the regional specialized trade.Meanwhile, the crisis poses considerable challenges for vegetable producers in particular, Dreyer observes. "We are currently working with masks and barriers in sauerkraut production because we cannot maintain the 2 meter distance everywhere. On the other hand, I also expect increased requirements in terms of hygiene as a result of the crisis. This means that the standards were already quite high before the crisis, but they will certainly be pushed up further," they finally say.