Due to inflation and lower purchasing power, 2023 will be remembered as a subdued sales year. "Compared to other years, customers bought less," says Christian Hoffmann, Managing Director of Becker und Wermelskirchen Fruchthandelsgesellschaft, based at the Düsseldorf wholesale market. "Nevertheless, we had quite a good stone fruit season, in which we also offered French nectarines and peaches for the first time. The following fall was rather weak, which is often the case. The pome fruit season is now picking up speed, with apples from the Altes Land region, which we are now sourcing for the first time, being particularly popular, as are Dutch pears."

Right: Christian Hoffmann has been at the helm of the Düsseldorf-based wholesale company since 2020.

Blue Orange citrus brand and apples from the Alte Land region.

In addition to pome fruit, Spanish citrus fruits in all varieties now characterize the range. In addition to the already established citrus brands Blue Orange and Llusar, Becker und Wermelskirchen is now also offering citrus under its new own brand San Sebastian for the first time. "With a total of three brands and several calibers each, we can offer our customers a wide range of products. In terms of price, clementines and oranges are around the same level as last year, while there were fewer early varieties in particular, such as Clemenules and Oronules. The supply situation has eased somewhat in recent weeks, but is still tight," says Hoffmann, who also points out the inevitable consequences of the staggered toll increase in the fruit and vegetable sector.

Clementines and oranges, among others, are traded under the San Sebastian private label.

New mainstays
In order to be able to survive on the market in the future, the company launched its own San Sebastian brand in the summer of this year, which has been operating as an independent limited company ever since. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the continued existence of the wholesale market played a key role in this, confirms the Hanover native.

"We started with Italian cherries and grapes and are now continuing with Spanish clementines and oranges. People are still cautious, but we have already been able to convince some weekly market traders to grow larger quantities. However, it is a test field and we will have to evaluate how it was received at the end of the season. If this evaluation is positive, it would be conceivable to include other products such as Italian pears in the range."

The two citrus brands San Sebastian and Llusar (r).

In addition to the creation of the own brand, the takeover of the Neuss specialist store Straeter in spring gave the company another new foothold. "The owner of this specialist retailer for fruit and vegetables with an additional catering service was already a customer of mine and gave up the business last year. I then thought to myself: we have the fleet of vehicles, he already had a loyal customer base and a good reputation in the local food service industry. This ultimately led to a takeover and, after a difficult initial phase, we now have a successful, independent business division," Hoffmann concludes.

Images: Becker & Wermelskirchen GmbH

For more information:
Christian Hoffmann
Becker & Wermelskirchen Fruchthandelsgesellschaft mbH
Großmarkt Düsseldorf
T: +49 2114 220 970
M: +49 173 8354 228