Smolik Obst- und Gemüse has a year-round supply of melons. However, according to Managing Director Enrico Smolik, there is not much demand at the moment. "However, the melons are quite popular within mass catering, as they are easy to process and they are suitable for both consumption and decorative purposes," says Smolik. The water, honey, cantaloupe and galia melons the company sources through Dutch importers come from Spain and overseas.
"When all is well, we receive about 10-20 crates per variety, although lately we have been getting about 4-6 crates per variety. At the same time, the crates are filled differently: Thus, in one crate there are about 16-20kg of watermelons, while in other crates there are 7-9kg of honeydew melons or else 5-6kg of cantaloupe and galia melons," Smolik says.
At the moment, the quality of the goods can vary, he said. "In some cases they are delivered very unripe, so we have to ripen them a bit more here. In other cases they will arrive too ripe. Getting the goods to the point is not so easy at the moment, because demand for melons in general is down a bit."
The company generates two-thirds of its sales through deliveries. At the moment, Smolik is additionally having to deal appropriately with sharply rising prices and the price markups that come with them. "We hope that our customers will still remain loyal to us. After all, even large companies are struggling with the current situation," Smolik claims.
During the first lockdown in 2020, the Freiburg-based company experienced large drops in sales, but was able to cushion them well thanks to government support. "Fortunately, we didn't have to lay off any employees. Since our gastro customers also came back in the summer, we were also able to make up a little. But I think that for many products we will not reach the figures from before Corona," Smolik fears.
High markdowns for lettuces
"Regarding lettuces, at the end of the 2020/2021 season, we had almost half the prices we had in the 2021/2022 season," Smolik says. "We received the first herbs, as well as products such as wild garlic and arugula from the region. Greenhouse lettuce will probably not play a big role this year, however, as the costs are simply too high. That means many farms tend to wait for the outdoor season," Smolik concludes.