Although in some places consumers seem to have already forgotten that we are in the middle of a pandemic, the situation in the fruit and vegetable trade is still tense. After serious slumps during the forced closures, especially of catering suppliers, the situation is recovering, but things are still far from back to normal. A commentary by Thomas Stütz of Früchte Braun LLC in Kößlarn (Bavaria).
"At the moment we are again feeling the restrictions very strongly," he says. "We should have supplied the third largest folk festival in Bavaria this year - five tents and also additional concession stands. Due to the Corona virus, the event has now been cancelled".
In the early months of the pandemic, Früchte Braun recorded a drop in sales of up to 80%, due to the large customer base in the hospitality sector. Thanks to the easing of the situation, capacity utilization is now back to 60-70%, but a further lockdown would be fatal. "Fortunately we are somewhat protected in the countryside, traditional pubs usually have more space than smaller pubs in cities and can still open. But even here it is not always worth it, because the personnel costs would be higher."
Innkeepers also suffer from the cancellation of folk festivals, as these are a main source of income during the year. "Despite all this, we are confident that 2021 will be better," Stütz laughs.
As far as the goods sold are concerned, the focus is on German goods, ideally from the region: "We work as regionally as possible, that's a trend that has become even more established with COVID-19". The company obtains fresh salads from a radius of 60 km and is supplied with fruit vegetables from a producer located 20 km away.
Sales are currently still somewhat restrained, even though the products are of good quality: "The growing season has really gone smoothly. In changeable weather there can be problems with pests, this was not the case this year. We have no complaints there." Prices are balanced as well. Stütz concludes: "We want to continue to offer regional vegetables as long as possible. The first frosts will decide when the season ends."