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35,000 boxes cress enter German market daily

Forty tonnes of seed go into the greenhouses of cress nursery Bio-Maintalkresse in Albertshof each year. Within seven days, that grows into a product, meaning around 35,000 boxes of cress leave the company every day. Elmar Gimperlein talked about his product during the horticultural mission to Germany.

Elmar Gimperlein talking to a Dutch group, visiting the company during a horticultural fact-finding trip to Southern Germany

Mixed packaging with rocket cress and two types of radish cress

Upon entering the Bio-Maintalkresse company in Albertshof, Germany, one immediately notices the new packaging line. At a rapid pace, cresses are put into their packaging, in boxes and on a pallet. Only a minimum of manual labour is needed on the line: a woman is carrying out an extra quality check. At lightning speed, she looks at every serving of cress. "She has to determine whether she would buy it from a stores like that," says Elmar Gimperlein, founder of the company. "If not, then it won't leave the nursery." The inspection is strict: a number of trays that look fine to the untrained eye, don't pass the test. "We prefer to remove a product rather than disappointing our customers," Gimperlein explains. He has been focusing fully on cress cultivation since 1990, so a good relationship with the buyer is hugely important for his company. A part goes to the market through wholesale markets, but another large share is also sold year-round at fixed prices, to buyers such as Edeka and REWE.

The cress grows fully within seven days

The trend in Germany is shifting from national produce to regional produce. Although Gimperlein is proud when he sees his product on shelves with the regional Franken label, the product really goes everywhere in Germany. The cresses are such a niche, that the German origin is sufficient for buyers and the consumer. Also, thanks to production on cellulose, the company is organically certified.

All trays that wouldn't be bought in the store, are taken out of production

The latest addition to Bio-Maintalkresse is the new packaging line, but the last expansion of the company was in 2008. Cultivation increased to 0.75 per greenhouse then. The product range was updated as well then: Gimperlein opted for flavour and for a number of Koppert-Cress varieties. The Bio-Maintalkresse product range now comprises garden cress and a mixed packaging with rocket cress and two types of radish cress. The EHEC crisis in 2011 was a tough blow following the investments. Revenue decreased sharply, and Gimperlein is still relieved to have got through that period. Since then, the products don't enter the market as "Sprossen" (sprouts), but as "Kresse" (cresses). Business is going well again now, Gimperlein says, although there's another side to that as well. "We began this to escape from the seasonal pressure of vegetable cultivation. But now we're actually busy year-round."
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