“Classics like avocado still offer a lot of potential and – despite the political debates surrounding them – will also expand greatly. There is also still a lot to come in the convenience and to-go sector. For example, sliced and chilled vegetables were not an issue in Germany for a long time, but are meeting with more and more demand,” says Joachim Stracke (pictured right), who has worked in food retailing for 35 years with a focus on selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
On May 1, 2021, he started his own business as a management consultant for the fruit and vegetable trade. In the meantime, Stracke ran his own fruit and vegetable specialty store for ten years, after which he worked for 14 years at Edeka in fruit & vegetable sales. The management consultant spoke to us about the current situation and trends in the retail sector. He still sees a lot of potential in fruit and vegetable departments, which is often not fully exploited.
Price and appreciation of goods
“The price appreciation of German consumers for high-quality food and thus also for fruit and vegetables still leaves much to be desired. There are some goods that do not even reach the German market because their prices are not accepted here. The Asian market, especially China, holds much higher potential here for many producers. German traders and consumers simply have to be brought down to earth. The high price pressure from retailers is bringing some businesses to their knees. And then there are the different requirements of the various retail chains for the products.”
Regionality, sustainability and organic produce
Stracke also spoke of a balancing act between the demand for high-quality regional organic goods on the one hand and low-priced entry-level goods on the other. “Here, price and seasonality play an important role for the customer. At the same time, the question arises as to how sustainable the production of watermelons and avocados in particular actually is, in terms of water consumption,” says Stracke.
Online retail is gaining in importance
“Online grocery delivery services are often still severely underestimated as a competitor by stationary retailers,” says Stracke. “Providers from the European market, but also from outside Europe, such as the USA, have already announced quite a lot of new things for the coming year. However, important topics for the industry will also be ensuring the availability of goods, vertical farming and, above all, the shortage of qualified specialists.”
Smart packaging and eliminating plastic
“Before Corona, packaging was by far the most discussed topic of all in terms of sustainability. Inquiries about this came both from consumers and from the markets. Then it became relatively quiet.” The topic of “intelligent packaging” now needs to be pushed strongly, Stracke said. What is meant by this, is versatile packaging that can be used to both combat food waste and contamination of the goods.
In general, he said, dispensing with film is not yet possible so easily, as evidenced by the way products such as cucumbers are traded. “There are some companies that first spoke out against films and then backed out,” he said. Because when the local and Dutch seasons are over and you have to get cucumbers from other countries, which will be on the road for 3-4 days, there would be a lot of waste, so film cannot yet be dispensed with. We need to create smart packaging that is recyclable, but also need to align ourselves with what is politically feasible.”
Stracke points out that compostable packaging already exists, but that the legal framework for it is not yet in place. “That’s where the system lags behind reality, as new, smart products are prevented from coming to market.”
A source: https://www.freshplaza.com