Arugula is currently enjoying a nice demand, and this is likely to increase again in the near future, according to Enrico Smolik, managing director of the Freiburg-based wholesale company of the same name. As Smolik sources the product from several growers, he can offer arugula almost year-round.
"We mainly offer greenhouse produce, as arugula is very susceptible to pitting and other problems in the open, which is why it has to be sprayed accordingly. Therefore, greenhouse production is safer, especially since arugula grows very well under certain light conditions. Prices for arugula had to be raised slightly, but we're only talking about some 0.50 euros here since there wasn't much heating involved," says Smolik. Arugula is marketed in small 12-bunch boxes.
Nice demand for lettuces from France
The company also offers a variety of leafy lettuces, such as lollo rosso and bionda, oak leaf red and light, mixed lettuce, and other products from France, which are experiencing good demand, as it were. So far, the protests in France have not yet affected deliveries from that country. "There was more of a problem of slight delays in the winter due to the weather. For example, it was sometimes too cold in southern France, so the lettuces could not be harvested until later, and transport was delayed."
The Europe-wide troubles with the weather in the summer of 2022 also affected Smolik's assortment. "We had some bottlenecks during the summer, especially regarding lettuces. While one farm had problems with drought, another farm could be faced with fields being flooded. Therefore, we sometimes had to resort to Palatine goods, which is rather unusual for us in the summer. However, we have still been able to deliver and work with supply partners who are always able to help us out. Fortunately, our customers are quite flexible when it comes to product selection."
High prices for fruit and vegetables from Spain
However, prices increased massively last year compared to the years before Corona. "This year, because of the situation in Spain, prices have gone up quite a lot, especially for greenhouse vegetables. You can sell incredible amounts of goods, but you will not get great returns because you can't pass on the costs."
For the past few weeks, Smolik has also been offering green and yellow peppers from the Netherlands and Belgium, while the range has been supplemented by red peppers from Spain. "We still have the latter in our assortment, as the price difference with Dutch goods sometimes stands at 5 euros. There is also demand for tomatoes from Morocco. The price is quite stable, as there is still no or very little produce from Belgium and the Netherlands."
Organic share of five percent
Since the company also supplies school caterers, among others, who in turn receive orders from the city of Freiburg, Smolik increasingly included organic goods in its range. "For us, the organic share is at about five percent. Since September, we have also been able to sell some regional organic apples, and the volumes of organic bananas are increasing as well. Since the Freiburg wholesale market is also involved in the Food Council, we additionally offer workshops on the topics of organic, sustainability, and regionality."
Smolik rates the atmosphere at the wholesale market as 'good.' "We are like a small family. Of course, there is competitive pressure, but we will also support each other."