The second lockdown in Germany is taking its toll on the fruit and vegetable trade. Even those who are indirectly or only partially affected by the closure of the hospitality industry are noticing the effects. Wholesalers have the economic advantage of systemic relevance, but on the other hand they have to keep working with other people and working from home is often not an option. "Now, with this second lockdown, morale is the problem", says Peter Grundhöfer from the fruit and vegetable trade of the same name, based at the Frankfurt wholesale market.
"You can tell that it's getting to the core of people. It is getting closer and closer - almost everyone is directly affected by the virus and no one can be sure how long the situation will continue. We are seeing depression and frustration among employees and the trade community at the Fresh Produce Center. It wasn't like this in spring," Grundhöfer says.
At Grundhöfer's stand, everything revolved around the Frankfurt Green Sauce when they visited FreshPlaza in June 2019. There was the "Grie Soß" with potatoes and eggs - and also green sauce beer. From left to right: Peter, Thomas and Inge Grundhöfer, with FreshPlaza managing director Silke Pfeffer
In spite of everything, Grundhöfer got off lightly when it came to the breakdowns: "So far we haven't had to strip the business back. The loss of the catering trade caused a slump of between 10 and 20%, but the increased demand from the food retailing sector was able to mostly make up for it."
Smaller companies that focus specifically on the catering trade are suffering particularly hard these months: "Everyone is trying to keep their heads above water and fortunately, there have not yet been any insolvencies at the Frankfurt Fresh Food Center".
He said that everyone has to work together to get through the crisis: "The world is not going to stop turning; there will be a time after Corona. Until that time, we all have to pull together to get through the crisis as well as possible. We retailers can consider ourselves lucky that the wholesale market is accommodating us here and that we are working together on good solutions."
Grundhöfer has made some investments this year in order to broaden its product portfolio and to be better prepared for global crisis situations like these in the future. "We have, for example, taken over a convenience store in Erlensee in order to better integrate this product segment into our company. Furthermore, starting this year we have also been cultivating herbs in South Africa."
Further strengthening of the Frankfurt location, the company also takes over the import and distribution of exotics throughout Germany. A product category that is strongly affected by the Coronavirus: "Less gastronomical options, events and celebrations have caused a 30% drop in sales of exotics. We are convinced that this segment will recover well after the pandemic."
He looks into the future with confidence: "The acquisition of the company is secured and with our large platform and additional services in Frankfurt we can offer our customers even more added value in the future."