This year's mirabelle plum season is in full swing. In week 32 - about eight days earlier than usual - the first stone fruits were offered to the markets. "This week, the first local produce will be offered in nationwide retail stores," says Jürgen Hattemer, sales manager of VOG Ingelheim eG. As expected, the revenues will be significantly below the previous year's level, the company continues.
Jürgen Hattemer and Steffen Lang at DOGK 2018 in Düsseldorf.
The current heat is also clearly noticeable in the southwest German stone fruit areas: "Harvesting is currently taking place at temperatures around 35 degrees," says Hattemer, who is in charge of the Germany-wide sales of stone fruits. Since the majority of this year's mirabelle plums have already been harvested, the heat wave will probably have only a minimal effect on fruit quality. However, one must still reckon with a lower yield: "Due to the May frost, there will be a third less mirabelle plums than last year."
Slow sales of industrial goods, good fresh market
Over the years, VOG Ingelheim eG has become the largest marketer of domestic mirabelle plums. The stone fruits are offered to both processors and retailers. "In the processing sector, demand is rather restrained due to Corona. In the catering trade, a lot of canned goods are traditionally used, but the demand in this sales area is not yet at the accustomed level. On the fresh market, however, demand is quite good. In terms of prices, we are estimated to be 40 percent above the previous year's level," Hattemer explains.
Stone fruit is the trademark of VOG Ingelheim. Considerable growth rates can be noted, for apricots in particular. The market for mirabelle plums is now saturated for the first time.
Export not going as expected
In contrast to the plum season, the mirabelle plum campaign only lasts a few weeks. Similar to the French in Elsas-Lorraine, the German supply will come to an end in week 34, according to current forecasts. "Thus, there will probably be no export opportunities for us. In other years, after the end of the season in Elsas-Lorraine - when the market was practically empty - we could probably export quantities".
The main variety cultivated is the Mirabelle of Nancy. Secondary varieties only play a minor role within the trade.
Steady development of private label
Some of the mirabelle plums are marketed under the Mirell private label. "Our own brand is quite stable and is well received by Rewe and Penny, among others. We brought the fresh mirabelle plums back to life back then and thus have an important unique selling point on the market."
"Compared to the mirabelle plums, the zwetschge season lasts much longer, which means it is more complicated to continuously stock a brand with varieties that are ready for consumption. In order to meet the demands of the trade in the future, we are now working on a new concept in which we are also involved in breeding. Then, we are actually able to place new varieties on the market."