Springtime is herbs time. But in the greenhouse facilities of the Lemberghof nursery in the Stuttgart area, fresh Bioland potted herbs grow and thrive all year round for the southern German trade. "However, the classic sales peaks are still concentrated on the Christmas and Easter holidays as well as spring," plant manager Ralf Mergenthaler reports.
A view of the greenhouse.
The organic potted herbs have been marketed to organic retailers and food retailers in southern Germany for many years. The tried-and-tested standard varieties are still the focus of consumers, Mergenthaler knows. "Nevertheless, somewhat lesser-known flavors, such as coriander, thyme and others, are now finding increasing favor. In addition, there are the very unusual varieties, such as a wide range of mint varieties, which are marketed more as niche products."
For 13 years now, the organic potted herbs have been offered on the shelves of Edeka Südwest under the regional brand "Unsere Heimat echt & gut."
Similar to many other producer companies, the traditional Lemberghof nursery is also confronted with the current challenges, first and foremost the Corona crisis. Mergenthaler: "It hit particularly hard during the second lockdown, because we had to implement all the protective measures in production within a very short time. On the sales side, we didn't feel the effects of the crisis as much, because the share of sales to food service customers is rather limited. In food retail, we were able to keep sales largely stable."
Surging raw material and electricity prices
According to Mergenthaler, the ongoing Corona crisis has had an extreme impact on raw material and energy prices. "We are faced not only with surging packaging costs, for example for our pots and cartons, but also with rapidly rising energy prices. The price of electricity has been devastating in some cases this past winter, and although we have been able to push through the additional price to a certain extent, the price increases are hardly feasible. However, all those involved in protected cultivation are in the same boat."
Images: Lemberghof Nursery