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The first drive-in session at Fresh Munich was a complete success:

"The coronavirus will change consumer behaviour in the long term"

Necessity is the mother of invention, as is becoming increasingly evident in the wholesale trade. Delivery services are becoming more and more popular, but other alternative concepts are also gaining in importance, giving some companies the opportunity to make up for some of the losses caused by the closure of the catering trade.  Fragiacomo & Co. had been planning to set up an additional service to the normal wholesale market business for some time. Due to the restrictions imposed by the corona virus, this development has now been implemented. The location directly outside the wholesale market site makes this fruit and vegetable drive-in possible. We spoke to Francesco Fragiacomo.

"Our first collections took place last Saturday; they were a complete success and we were able to hand out fruit and vegetable crates to 100 customers. For the next date we would like to double the number and perhaps arrange collection days during the week in the future," he says. This service is there for everyone, which is only enabled by the pick-up spot outside the wholesale market area: "Otherwise it wouldn't be so easy to arrange this kind of service."

At the same time, Francesco explains, it is possible to give consumers a better understanding of the wholesale market. "We had been planning such a service for some time, where we also wanted to offer delicatessen and other refined products. The aim was to become an alternative platform to the supermarket, which also stands for quality." That's where the path should continue to lead, but in this transitional period, three different mixed fruit and vegetable crates will be offered for customers to choose from.

"We had also thought about offering the crates with any combination of goods, but in the end we decided against it. This is out of pragmatism: On the one hand, we can fill the crates more efficiently and dispatch the collectors quite quickly without long queues forming. On the other hand, the 'surprise effect' for the customers is also nice. You are no longer spoilt for choice and sometimes you encounter new products that you might not have bought otherwise. It adds variety to the monotonous quarantine routine." In the future, the boxes will also contain recipe ideas for this purpose.

There is a clear hierarchy of criteria in the selection of products, explains Francesco: "First and foremost, taste clearly is clearly paramount, followed by regionality. Sometimes organic products are also available, but only if everything fits. We don't just take every tomato, but select the best ones in terms of taste."

Fresh Munich and the Drive-In are a business unit of Fragiacomo & Co., a classic wholesaler and importer of mainly Italian goods. Francesco added that sourcing from Italy is still comparatively easy: "We also source products from Spain or Greece, but that is much more difficult at the moment. But you can also notice how fewer and fewer drivers want to drive to Italy. We have to take the development as it comes. Things are going quite well right now, but that can change at any time."

Fragiacomo & Co. has lost 40% of its sales due to the closure of the catering trade. Even this means it is doing better than many others, Francesco is well aware: "Fortunately, we also have customers in the food retailing sector, so we can keep our head above water in this exceptional situation at short notice. Many do not have this luck and only a few, pure food retail suppliers, profit from the situation. I hope that in two months at the latest there will be a certain normality again."

Fragiacomo would like to continue offering the order boxes after the end of the crisis: "Perhaps we will also offer a delivery service then, but for the time being we wanted to refrain from doing so." First of all, he says, one has to earn the trust of the customers: "Especially in a tense situation like the present one. Consumers come to us, see our safety measures, and see that we work hygienically. Over time, this creates a certain amount of trust, which is still lacking in traditional online trading in Germany. I believe that the corona virus will change consumer behaviour in the long term."

For more information:
Francesco Fragiacomo 
Fresh Munich

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