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Biofruit CEO Dirk Salentin on the intensified partnership with Früchte Rosenbaum:

"Sensible exploitation of synergies makes it possible to minimize logistics costs"

A few months ago, the existing cooperation between the Düren-based organic specialist biofruit Ltd and the Cologne-based fruit trading company Früchte Rosenbaum was strengthened. After the completion of the comprehensive new building at the existing location in Cologne, biofruit has an integrated cold storage facility in the modern Rosenbaum building.

In a detailed interview, biofruit boss Dirk Salentin looks back on the past months together with this cooperation partner. He also provides insights into current developments on the organic market.

For many years now, the two companies have been in a similar market environment, says Salentin. "In terms of our two product ranges, we are targeting a similar clientele who want to market a valuable product. This has meant that we also faced the same challenges regarding fruit logistics: we sometimes drove to the same individual retail stores, one after the other, with only small quantities.

This finally led us to create synergies and to combine our forces.  Initially, we only cooperated in regard to logistics. Later we realized that it makes much more sense across the entire value chain to store and pick goods at a concentrated location. Accordingly, we moved our regional logistics platform near Bonn to here. The premises in Mutterstad,t for the Germany-wide business, will remain operational."

Dirk Salentin (biofruit Ltd) and Thomas Dickes (Früchte Rosenbaum)

Basically, they share the goal of increasing efficiency along the supply chain accordingly. Salentin: "The task we have nowadays is to design the processes in such a way that we minimize or completely get rid of the unnecessary costs we still have. Regardless of cost minimization, we are now prepared for the coming years by being up to date at this modernly equipped site, which in turn is a basic requirement for us to be able to grow in a scalable way in the near future."

Salentin continues that the more intensive cooperation is particularly beneficial from the customer's point of view. "The cooperation makes it possible to offer our service more cost-effectively. At the same time, it creates added value. In the organic sector, it is customary for goods to be delivered fresh three times a week. With the new synergy of bundled delivery, we are able to deliver fresh to the markets daily, which in turn creates flexibility and agility within purchasing. Interestingly, the idea for us to join forces came from customers as well, because they had already seen the need and the added value."

Thomas Dickes from Früchte Rosenbaum is of the same opinion: "We don't take anything away from each other, quite the opposite. We refer customers to each other, particularly since our own organic program is vanishingly small. In practice, this means that the more biofruit goods we can load onto our trucks, the more volume we drive from A to B and the faster the shipment is paid for."

Part of biofruit's new cold storage facility

Shelf space for premium organic will continue to be available
According to market analyses and surveys, in times of rising inflation, consumers will choose organic goods less often. "So far, we do not see an alarming slump, although there are undoubtedly shifts within the organic sector. The organic share in discount stores is growing, while the supermarket share is shrinking. However, inflation is hitting organic retailers in particular, and I think they will have to reinvent themselves as well. Overall, however, I am confident that the current adversities will not be able to stop the longer-term organic trend. I firmly believe that there will continue to be shelf space for premium and value brands in the organic segment."

Dirk Salentin (r) at organic carrot producer Bochröder

Similar to what is happening in the conventional sector, so-called luxury products are somewhat less popular with organic buyers in these times of crisis.

Salentin: "The entire overseas range is difficult to market these days, while regional products are increasingly coming to the fore. However, these developments are taking place gradually and have already been going on for several years. Domestic products such as organic potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbages are now available all year round. The same applies to pumpkins, which have evolved from a seasonal item to a year-round product. The task we face is to get the required volume into the markets. However, some of the structures required for this are still in their infancy, which in turn creates more opportunities for us."

Given the current situation, he said, interest on the producer side to switch to organic farming is relatively low. "Against the backdrop of the current climate catastrophe, however, there are indeed many farmers who can no longer cope with industrial, large-scale cultivation and who want to switch over. However, as an organic farmer, you have to be able to guarantee a certain purchase volume in order to be program-ready for food retailers, which in turn requires certain investments. But there are opportunities in every crisis, so I am confident that new opportunities will also open up in the organic segment."

For more information:
Dirk Salentin
biofruit GmbH
Am Langen Graben 5
D-52353 Düren
Tel.: +49 (0) 2421 69 354 0 

Thomas Dickes
Früchte Rosenbaum GmbH
Am Eifeltor 16
D-50997 Köln
Tel.: +49-221-988 888 72
Fax.: +49-221-988 888 99    

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