The sudden rise in temperatures last week has had a corresponding effect on the citrus market. "Demand for citrus has dropped noticeably due to the spring-like weather, while volume availability has remained constant," says Lutz Siebrecht, joint managing director of Stuttgart-based wholesaler Wirth & Co LLC.
Despite the decline in demand, the fruit wholesaler can look back on a successful citrus campaign so far. "Nice volumes were sold throughout, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Since we do not supply as much to the foodservice industry, the closures have hardly affected us. Instead, sales in the food retail and specialty retail segments have boomed noticeably. Only in weekly markets we generally sold a little less over the last few weeks, due to the cold snap."
Nadorcott & Clemenules
Even in times of Corona, the supply of goods from the southern European sourcing countries could be approximately maintained. "At the beginning of the crisis, we saw corresponding shortfalls in Spain because there wasn't enough personnel available. However, the situation was mastered relatively quickly, after which consistent volumes were supplied without any major delays," Siebrecht explains.
On the sales side, too, hardly any changes were felt, which is why the citrus campaign developed without any major problems. Siebrecht: "Spanish clementines continue to be more popular than oranges. The early clementines are traditionally somewhat less in demand, with demand only increasing considerably from the start of the season for the Clemenules. Meanwhile, we have come to Nadorcotts: these are traded at a somewhat higher price compared to the Clemenules, but they are very popular with customers as well."
Good starting position for Orri clementines
Meanwhile, larger volumes of Israeli Orri clementines have also been hitting the market for several weeks. "These are selling at 2.50 euros/kg, roughly similar to premium Nador clementines, but are somewhat more popular with the buyer. Normally, Orri clementines can be offered until the end of May. However, I could imagine that now, in times of Corona, more quantities are needed on the local market. This would then in turn have a corresponding impact on our markets."
Wirth & Co's citrus range is rounded out by lemons and grapefruits. "Conventional lemons from Spain are obviously less needed due to the gastronomy closures, but organic lemons are at the same level. Grapefruits have become a marginal item in recent years and are almost exclusively offered from Spain because Florida goods are only traded at a very high price due to customs issues."
Future of the Stuttgart wholesale market
The traditional company at the Stuttgart wholesale market has gotten off lightly so far, he said. "We are interested to see how the Corona situation will develop. Although perhaps not to the same extent as in the past, I am convinced that the wholesale market will remain an important trading center in the future."