Bremen's wholesale market is undergoing a transformation. After two challenging pandemic years, the northern German trading hub is fully committed to digitization and sustainability. In addition, the market office is striving to expand its service to a total of 85 resident market companies in the coming years to keep up with the times. In this interview, Lars Jansen, the division manager of the wholesale market, explains the status quo as well as the ambitious future goals of the fresh produce center.
If everything goes according to plan, two major new construction projects will be realized at the site in Bremen's Überseestadt district in a few years. "In Hall 3, a food hub for the regional start-up scene and for start-ups in the food and nutrition sector will be created in the foreseeable future. The associated plans are currently being negotiated," Jansen reports. The Market Office is particularly optimistic about this future prospect, he says. "We believe in the synergy effects between regional start-ups and the classic wholesale market companies and are convinced that this partial function can be very beneficial in practice."
Despite the pandemic, the refurbishment and conversion of the former Greenyard Hall was also implemented. Says Jansen, "About half of the hall now belongs to the Topak company and is mainly used for the production of fresh convenience products. A Rewe store has been located in the remaining space since last summer; however, this is a temporary use. This is because a new Edeka store is being built on an undeveloped section of land we sold in the spring at the corner of Konsul-Schmidt-Strasse and Marcuskaje, the second major new construction project in the near future."
Lars Jansen (above right) is divisional manager of the Bremen wholesale market and is in close contact with the retailers based there, such as Marie Pigors (Naturkost Kontor), Mustafa Topak (Topak Fruchtimporte) and Heiko Faby (Fruchtgroßhandel Faby).
Permanent full capacity utilization despite pandemic
The Bremen market companies also look back on two challenging pandemic years. "Despite Corona, there are not too many losses. We still have full utilization of the entire sales area, and interested parties are permanently available. Accordingly, we see ourselves well equipped for the future," Jansen emphasizes.
Recently, the long-established Fruchthaus Hulsberg announced its departure from the Bremen market site. The company will soon be moving into a brand new location at the Ganderkesee industrial park. There are also already several interested parties for the vacated rental space.
The wholesale market hall in Bremen's Überseestadt district.
Digitization and sustainability
Nevertheless, the Bremen wholesale market is also facing the current cost increases, especially for electricity and heat generation. "Currently, we are modernizing our heating system and expect savings of 20-30 percent in this area. We are also converting our lighting to LED, which will also enable us to realize significant cost reductions. As a next step, we are successively expanding our e-charging stations. We want to live up to our responsibility as a service provider, but at the same time reduce our consumption wherever possible from an economic point of view," says Jansen, explaining the planned measures.
Not only sustainability but also modern service will be a particular focus at the Bremen Market Office in the coming years. "Digitalization, for example, in personnel recruiting, is an important focus here. As a service provider, we are also striving to go further in-depth in general marketing around the wholesale market and its market companies," says Lars Jansen.
Local wholesale market 'indispensable'
As one of three fresh food centers in the Hamburg-Bremen-Hanover urban agglomeration, the Bremen trading area is located in an interesting sales area. "Corona has clearly shown us how important a local wholesale market is for the urban food supply. There are also numerous buyers who stock up on goods at several wholesale markets, which is why we tend to observe a mutual synergy rather than competition. In addition, we are in constant exchange with our colleagues from the GFI wholesale market association and discuss the challenges that we are all currently facing to a certain extent," says Jansen.
The latter applies not only to the challenges but also to any opportunities that may exist in the future. Lars Jansen comments: "E-commerce, for example, has not yet found a place in the wholesale market, but it is an interesting market that we are constantly monitoring. Also, the strong and rapidly increasing share of the delivery business and the associated requirements in terms of infrastructure and logistics are a longer-term development that we somehow have to reckon with. Fortunately, we undoubtedly have an optimal starting position in this respect, with good connections to the city and the highway. Finally, the diversity of supply also plays an extremely important role: the trend toward regionality coupled with rising transport costs lead to exciting framework conditions that our market companies must deal with currently and in the coming years."