Jörn Reimers, ARUS August Reimers & Sohn:

"We expect Italian vegetable prices to increase by 10-20%"

Normally, sales are booming just before Christmas. But in many places it has already been reported that pre-Christmas shopping is hardly a thing this year. It seems to be similar in the fruit and vegetable sector. Here, further problems are looming, as Jörn Reimers (pictured right), managing director of ARUS August Reimers & Sohn Ltd, tells us. "Starting next week, prices will change even more drastically due to the bad weather and high demand. We expect a further increase of 10-20% of Italian vegetables. Because due to the high freight costs, the prices of goods are already much higher than last year."

However, the reason for this lies not in the goods themselves, but mainly in freight costs, also affecting goods from Italy, he said. "Energy costs also affect us, of course. With the planned increase in the minimum wage to 12 EUR/h, we would have to reckon with an additional increase of 20%," Reimers says.

Another problem at the moment is also the agreements with the large chains. "Our delivery obligations that were decided on one or two weeks ago must of course be fulfilled. If the goods are lacking, we are responsible for the costs ourselves. This is then not due to demand, but rather to a lack of supply." Since kohlrabi is showing poor growth right now, there will be a lack of supply of this vegetable as well. "In addition, quality is relatively low and their prices are quite high."

Drastically less produce
"Despite the 2G scheme, isolated sales at least can still happen," Reimers said. Especially since other sales options are missing due to the closed Christmas markets. However, Reimers' customers primarily include food retailers and suppliers for the food service industry. "Those sales will be drastically fewer. But what I need for our business, I will still get." Salads are what Reimers offers from France, with those already up 20% last week and expected to rise again 20% heading into next week, again due to the lack of product.

Thanks to its large assortment and its supply to food retailers and weekly markets, Reimers is able to maintain its volumes and sales. "What is having a hefty impact is that the catering business is down, which has caused the exotics business to plummet. We have another problem, again, with high air freight costs. Exotics, berries and the like are selling quite slowly at the moment, although there are not particularly large quantities either. This means it is balanced out again to some extent."

According to Reimers, sales at the Hamburg wholesale market have become much slower. "This has been the case every year so far, however, we had always been busy from November to the beginning of December due to the citrus season. However, we now have to plan so that we can cover our stocks before Christmas." What the trends will ultimately be, however, cannot be said beforehand, he said. "What sold well last year may not sell well this year and vice versa. That's the beauty of our business: it never gets boring," Reimers concludes.

For more information:
Jörn Reimers
ARUS August Reimers & Sohn GmbH
Auf der Brandshofer Schleuse 4
Gang K Stand 414/415
20097 Hamburg
Tel: (+49 40) 3 25 85 00
Fax: (+49 40) 32 58 50 20

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