Jens Wiele, Chairman of the Board of ELO eG:

"Providing basic services in Germany is becoming increasingly challenging"

The year is gradually drawing to a close, which means that the first companies are also taking stock. Erzeugergroßmarkt Langförden-Oldenburg eG, for example, looks back on a challenging but nevertheless successful year. "The financial year has been very positive for us so far, even if the course was quite challenging in the meantime: due to the weather conditions, we started the season later than last year. Nevertheless, we are quite satisfied with the result because we were able to make up for the delay in sales. We also succeeded in further increasing sales. We would like to thank our colleagues at ELO for this," Jens Wiele (on the right in the picture), CEO of Erzeugergroßmarkt Langförden-Oldenburg eG, told us on request.

Systematic sustainability management
"Right now, the harvest of late products such as broccoli, iceberg lettuce or pointed cabbage is underway. And here, too, it is becoming apparent that we can be satisfied with the result. But what this year 2023 has also confirmed for us is that our focus on sustainability is exactly right," says Wiele. "The climate is changing, and we need to establish a systematic sustainability management system that takes into account all three dimensions of sustainability: the ecological, the economic and the social. The challenge for us is to reconcile the careful use of resources with a reliable basic supply of fruit and vegetables. Ensuring this basic supply in Germany is becoming increasingly challenging."

Thus, the weather caprices and other existing challenges also made themselves felt at ELO. "The weather is, after all, always an incalculable factor in agriculture. This year, it was mainly the rainy July that definitely made life difficult for us during harvest and cultivation of subsequent crops. From a business perspective, we were under pressure primarily because of the higher minimum wage. You can't speak of an unforeseen development here, but it still hit us."

Late season and stable soft fruit sales
In soft fruit, he said, the company got off to a late start in the season and had to contend with challenging weeks as far as the weather was concerned. "This has of course affected our sales, which are slightly below last year. But in terms of sales, we once again got off lightly. Again, a lot of credit goes to our growers, with whom we had very intensive exchanges on volumes and quality of the products. This enabled us to serve our sales markets even more reliably."

Apart from that, there was no noticeable decline in interest in any berry variety, he said. "Customers are less committed to one type of berry anyway. It is more important to them that the products supplied offer consistent quality and the best taste. We can meet both of these requirements with our berries. But of course, we are constantly developing and testing new varieties to generate crop rotation and maintain the quality of our soils."

Open to growers from all over Germany
At present, he said, there are no plans to make adjustments to the acreage. "They will remain as they are. But of course we are continuously reviewing our offer and aligning it with shopper needs. In principle, we are open to accepting new growers from Germany into our cooperative, both around the steeple and in other regions of Germany. This would naturally expand the growing area."

Assortment supplemented by soup bundles
ELO is also oriented toward shopper needs in terms of adding new varieties and products, he said. "Together with our partners, we want to identify and leverage relevant potential and added value. Therefore, we are looking at various options to further develop our assortment. In the current season, we have already added soup bundles to our assortment, and further planning will take place in the coming quarter."

As a company operating nationwide, there are overlaps in the catchment area of competitors from time to time. However, new ideas can set the company apart from others accordingly: "We sell nationwide and supply both food retailers and wholesalers at home and abroad. We have long since established ourselves successfully and can be very satisfied with our position in the market. With our quality and variety, our experience and always fresh ideas, we will continue on this path successfully. Currently, for example, we are working with a shopper study to generate shopper insights for our retail partners in order to understand and serve the market and shoppers even better."

ELO at Fruit Attraction
The northern German company's products are not only sold here in Germany, but are also exported to neighboring countries as well as to Italy, England, Sweden, Norway and other countries. ELO also maintains business relations with Spain and will accordingly be present at the international trade fair ELO Fruit Attraction. "Spain is an important country in our industry, so also for us. From our point of view, it is important to deal responsibly with the import and export of fruit and vegetables. Our position is clear on this: individual countries should prioritize their domestic production and then sensibly supplement it with high-quality products from abroad in order to achieve a continuous supply as well as product diversity. This is our guideline for corporate planning."

Visit the company at Fruit Attraction in Madrid in Pavilion 8 at Booth 8C20.

For more information:
Jens Wiele
Erzeugergroßmarkt Langförden-Oldenburg eG
Mittelwand 17
49377 Vechta-Langförden
Tel. +49 4447.9620.0

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