The current Corona-crisis has so far been an exciting time for domestic vegetable cultivation: On the one hand, the increased focus on regionally produced agricultural products is creating new opportunities. On the other hand, many producers are struggling with the consequences of the crisis precisely because of the acute shortage of harvest workers and the temporary closure of restaurants. How does the pandemic affect the suppliers of vegetable cultivation - for example, seed suppliers? FreshPlaza.de spoke with Hendrik Müller (right in the picture), co-managing director of the nationally and internationally operating Agri Saaten LLC about the current challenges and the long-term consequences of the crisis.
Strength and continuity of the domestic market
For the management of Agri Saaten, the domestic market has proven its strength and continuity, especially under difficult conditions. The market seems to be resistant. "The cultivation plans were largely realised and therefore, in our opinion, the demand for seed has not decreased. On the contrary: Especially stored and industrial vegetables such as carrots, onions and parsnips or even beans and sweet corn show an increase in our sales."
From the point of view of Agri Saaten LLC, the current situation could lead to a bit more regionality throughout the supply chain in order to simply guarantee the supply of the population with local vegetables. Müller: "Regionality is very important to us, as it allows us to produce and supply in a more climate-friendly way. We can also imagine that seasonal vegetables will experience a revived trend. This speaks for a stronger naturalness. Nevertheless, we do not assume that globalisation will decrease in the vegetable sector. After all, the market for vegetable seeds is already internationally anchored due to its diverse production locations."
Three varieties from the modern catalogue of Agri Saaten LLC
Countess Parsnips, Sweet corn & Bengal carrots.
Joint strengthening of the supply chain
As one of the largest suppliers in the vegetable seed sector, the vegetable crops of Agri Saaten ultimately end up in all segments of the trade, whether wholesale, food retail or catering. The latter was hit particularly hard by the crisis. "This affects our customers and us strongly. Fresh vegetables in supermarkets, markets and restaurants must not and will not disappear. On the contrary, in the future we would like to see even more specialised gastronomy that prepares and offers fresh products. In this system the producer becomes a partner and the cook or restaurateur knows exactly where his vegetables come from. The product is given a high value."
Industry and the fresh market are particularly important for the seed supplier on both sides. And this includes all parts of the supply chain from the seed producer to the end customer, where the vegetables end up on the plate. Müller: "We believe in an even stronger partnership in the supply chain. This is our motivation and our pleasure in supplying only the best vegetables and in contributing to the development of society or being part of it.
Versatile vegetable market
Agri Saaten offers vegetable farmers at home and abroad a wide range of different vegetable products, including special crops. Although at the beginning of the pandemic there was an increased demand for products for daily consumption (potatoes, onions, carrots), Müller still sees several opportunities for special crops.
"Especially in times of crisis, new niches and perspectives develop. Our experience is that many growers are now trying out new ways, especially in the area of special crops. As an example we notice this in the sweet corn sector. Here we are one of the specialists in Germany. Many growers are requesting this crop for themselves in a completely new way. It is possible that new markets will emerge. The market for vegetables can not only become more regional, but also more diverse."
Meanwhile, the recognition and appreciation of vegetables as immune-boosting, nutritious products has increased, especially in times of corona. As a seed supplier, Agri Saaten would like to contribute to a healthier, more varied diet. "The market, that is the consumer, ultimately determines what is in demand. And if these are special crops such as sweet corn, parsnips or even chicory, we are of course pleased about this and our market companions are probably just as pleased. But vegetables that are already in high demand, such as onions, carrots or beans, are also of enormous importance to us. Special crops such as baby leaf lettuce enrich our markets and we are always trying to develop and select new varieties."