At the beginning of March, Früchte Heep was still able to offer smaller quantities of vine tomatoes from Italy at the Cologne wholesale market, which are usually higher priced than the Spanish product. "However, since the Spanish tomatoes were relatively expensive, the Italian tomatoes have even been competitive," managing director Norbert Heep tells us. "For the last four to five weeks, we have also been offering Belgian goods. The first producers in Belgium had already started marketing the heated produce."
From December to early February, Turkish tomatoes were also available to the company, but their quality had declined by the end. "The goods arrived crisp fresh, but they changed a lot within a few days, as our customers told us. From there, we also took them out of the program." Prices are comparable to those of last year, he said. "Belgian goods we bought with a price of about 3.00 euros per kilo. This year, the price is also at a relatively high level."
Dutch merchandise is purchased by Heep through the ZON auction. "But their prices have been higher than the Belgian auctions recently. Accordingly, we don't have Dutch goods in our program. Especially since the Belgian product variety is greater," says Heep.
Top-tomatoes Cherrystar and sweet bell pepper Cherry tomatoes
"For a few weeks now, we have been offering, among other things, the Cherrystar mini cherry panicle variety, which is a top product in terms of quality and taste. Of course, it is traded at different prices than Spanish or Italian goods. Since this week, we offer the first bell pepper cherry tomatoes, which look like a small bell pepper. Therefore, the offer is getting bigger and bigger. In the course of this week, the product portfolio from Northern Europe will increasingly displace the offer from Southern Europe," says Heep. "For this week, we still have Spanish tomatoes in the range, which will be competitively priced."
Asparagus is in the starting blocks
Limited quantities of asparagus from heated cultivation are also already available in time for Easter. It's still too cold for outdoor produce. Even foil tunnels and covers do not help yet, because the sun is missing to warm up the soil. As a result, available quantities are still quite low and prices are high. "The outdoor season and harvest for green asparagus won't start until after Easter, when it will be back on the plate as a favorite dish for many Germans." Heep hopes. "When it comes to asparagus, mainly regional producers are popular with our customers; after all, the Rhineland is an excellent growing region with good quality and great taste."
Salad as a guaranteed source of sales
Furthermore, Heep can also look forward to good business with French salads. "At pandemic time, we were already receiving two to three truck deliveries per week, while this year there have even been three to four trucks. Leaf salads have also been a sales guarantor for us this year. Our sales figures have developed correspondingly well due to the higher prices. The producers should be allowed to enjoy the fact that they don't have to sell their products for a penny. You also hear from many producers from the south of Europe, who ensure the supply in winter, that they have ultimately made a minus business with the prices in previous years and wonder whether it is worthwhile to continue producing at all."
Shifting sales to the delivery sector
In recent years, sales in the delivery area have grown faster than pickup at the wholesale market itself, which is why the entrepreneur wants to expand the former. "We have a diversified customer portfolio and work with many small, independent, as well as larger catering suppliers, through to wholesale chains, many retailers, independent fruit and vegetable businesses, and farm stores. What is certain is that the decision to move toward delivery was the right one and will continue to be expanded."
Früchte Heep GmbH
Tel.: +49 - (0)221 - 93 70 73-0
Fax: +49 - (0)221 - 93 70 73 -25