"There are currently still 14 to 15 pallets standing around with us that we cannot sell. We had similar problems in the weeks before. While the catering trade is looking for the cheapest possible goods, sales in the retail trade also leave much to be desired. Even the customers who supply the weekly markets are experiencing more restrained demand overall," says vegetable producer and managing director Georg Kiening of the vegetable farm of the same name. "Business with greenhouse cucumbers is currently disastrous," he emphasizes. Kiening began planting the cucumbers in week 13.
Better sales of outdoor products
In contrast, he says he can definitely report better numbers in outdoor production, especially for lettuces. "This is partly due to the fact that a major competitor has stopped production this year." Still, sales are lower than in previous years, he said. "We have 15 hectares available for outdoor production. In the greenhouse, we grow mainly cucumbers, tomatoes, and potted herbs on one hectare. But our farm is generally characterized by a wide variety of products." Apart from that, radish is a product for which demand decreases from year to year, and cultivation will be reduced accordingly in the long term, he said.
Despite the high production costs, prices at Gemüsebau Kiening have not increased compared to the previous year but have even fallen by five to six percent, he said. "As soon as we can offer our tomatoes, we will also be able to generate better sales again. We mainly have special varieties such as yellow tomatoes and various beef tomatoes in our range, which also stand out from conventional vine tomatoes in terms of price."
Skilled staff is hard to find
He rates the mood in the gardeners' hall at the Munich wholesale market as depressed. "It is of course also due to the fact that many are on Whitsun vacation. Therefore, the hope is that in the summer, then not too many will go away, and the purchasing power will also increase again." However, if the situation does not improve, Kiening expects that, on the one hand, the cultivation areas will have to be reduced and, on the other hand, he will devote himself more to direct marketing. "Sales in our farm store are definitely going well. However, it is difficult to find skilled personnel. However, this is a problem that affects many industries."
Kiening was also critical of the production conditions here: "The high production costs and the additional regulations of the current government lead to a distortion of competition that does not affect neighboring countries such as the Netherlands or Poland. After all, we are in the fortunate position of being able to choose between petroleum pallets and gas for heating. This has allowed us to produce cost-effectively as far as possible and to regulate heating to the extent that the plant does not freeze."