The sudden onset of winter in Spain is currently having a far-reaching impact on the European market. With temperatures well below freezing, vegetable farmers are currently suffering and that means supply problems in Germany, too. "It is a bit chaotic in Spain at the moment," says Thomas Stütz of Früchte Braun LLC, who is kept up to date on current events by his Spanish suppliers.
The year 2021 has not yet brought any improvement compared to the Corona year 2020, and now, on top of the lockdown, the weather in the supplier country Spain is going crazy: "Our suppliers are talking about the coldest winter in 50 years, with over 30° below zero in Madrid and snowstorms. Many vegetables are affected, from iceberg lettuce to zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower, with a massive impact on prices," says Stütz. Fortunately, fruits are less affected.
However, this has not yet had a major impact on Braun's day-to-day business: "The lockdown has just been extended, and most of our customers in the food service industry are hardly buying any quantities at the moment anyway. The customers who really need the iceberg lettuce, for example, also pay higher prices for it - the others simply avoid it."
Alternatives don't really exist, he says: "We are very dependent on Spain and have not been able to deliver iceberg lettuce for two days now. Of course, you have to explain to the customers how the situation is in Spain and that there is therefore little product and higher prices. Then we also see understanding there, both from our bulk buyers and in indoor sales. There are enough other vegetables and salads, you can always find a solution."
Nevertheless, he is slightly worried about the coming weeks: "The extreme frost has damaged the plants in the long term. Even if the weather improves soon now, we'll feel the aftermath for a while."
The company is also still successfully operating its in-house pick-up market - even if that is unlikely to cushion the corona-related drop in sales, Stütz says with regret. "The response is still very positive and our pick-up market has earned a high standing in the region. People appreciate the fact that they can get something different from supermarkets and discounters. Cara Cara oranges, San Marzano tomatoes and Fräulein apples, you rarely see anything like that in the supermarket. With us, you get a great selection for good money and in a rustic market atmosphere, which simply goes down well," Stütz concludes.
A view at the assortment at the warehouse.