At the beginning of the year, there was a generational change at the Upper Bavarian fruit wholesaler Kern. Long-time managing director Joachim Kern handed over the company to his nephew Florian Wächter, who has been a partner in the business since 2012. Under the name Wächter Obst & Gemüse Großhandel (Wächter Fruit & Vegetable Wholesale), the business activities are now being continued in Miesbach, Upper Bavaria.
Like many of his colleagues, the new business owner finds himself in hard times. "We normally supply many Italian restaurants and Bavarian pubs. Due to Corona, the current turnover in gastronomy is of course quite modest. Fortunately, we also have a few retail customers as well as many kindergartens in the region that we continue to serve with daily freshness. In the latter sector, too, however, the quantity purchased has been reduced, which is why our sales have roughly halved in the past few months," Wächter says.
Right: Florian Wächter has been managing the regional wholesaler by himself since 1 January. Between 2012 and 2020, he ran Kern&Wächter together with his uncle.
Shortage of iceberg lettuce and aubergines
The current situation is also reflected at the product level, observes Wächter. "There is less demand for exotics and the same applies to strawberries and other berry fruits, which are also more difficult to obtain in winter," says the fruit trader, who sources most of his goods from the Munich wholesale market. "Unfortunately, there are only a few large producers in Upper Bavaria, which is why purely regional products only account for a modest share of the turnover. Due to the time of year, the current supply of regional products is also rather modest. However, we try to obtain Bavarian or German goods from our wholesale market partners."
Particularly in the case of imported goods, there has been a shortage of goods in recent weeks due to the weather, says Wächter looking back. "Because of the cold snap in Spain and Italy, we had hardly any iceberg lettuce in the second week of January. Recently there was also a shortage of Spanish and Dutch aubergines: This in turn led to corresponding price mark-ups in the trade."
Expansion of activities
Uncertainty regarding the Corona pandemic and the near future is omnipresent, especially among medium-sized fruit traders, he said. "We don't know where the journey is going, so I am rather cautious. On the other hand, I believe that there will still be a place for flexible regional suppliers with daily fresh produce in the future. So after the crisis, we want to gradually expand our supply area and business activities."