Right: Deputy Managing Director Kai Fuchs
Special cultures at two locations
In the greenhouses of Albertshofen mainly tomatoes and cucumbers are grown, as well as special crops such as radish, lamb's lettuce and organic cress. The 15 greenhouse growers produce their vegetables on a total area of 21 hectares. At the beginning of February, the first cucumbers of the season were already harvested and at the end of March - in time for Easter - the tomatoes could be added. Apart from the very popular snake- and heart-shaped cucumbers, there are two varieties of tomatoes that are currently grown on a large scale: the Lyterno and the Mecano. “In addition to these, we also have organic cress, purple cauliflower, coloured carrots and yellow zucchini in our program. The trend is shifting clearly towards colourful vegetables,” says Kai Fuchs, Deputy Managing Director of the Horticultural Center in Albertshofen.
heart-shaped cucumbers and coloured cauliflower
The location in Albertshofen is fully specialized in the summer greenhouse and outdoor production, the branch in Gundelfingen focuses on outdoor vegetables during the winter months. In order to be able to guarantee a certain ability to deliver to traders, the two individual companies merged in 1998 and the product range was gradually expanded. Fuchs: “Further advantages of having these two locations are, for example, that we can cover a larger delivery area and exchange goods and, moreover, we are usually able to harvest in Franconia a few weeks earlier. By cultivating both outdoor and under glass, we are able to offer some products all year round. We also want to do this with radish. In the greenhouse, these are already planted in the fall, so they can be harvested in January. These products are then marketed until the start of the outdoor season.”
In order to keep up with regional competition and to be able to offer their own products effectively, a distinctive logo is particularly important. Especially in Bavaria, where there is a great variety of regional and quality labels. “Two years ago we introduced our logo Albert & Gundel, with two beautiful cartoon characters representing our two locations. The logo has a high recognition factor for both children and parents, which is why it has been very well received by consumers so far. Everyone immediately knows what we are about and what level of quality is involved,” says Fuchs.
All products of the Horticultural Center are marketed under the aforementioned logo - either in the food retail trade (LEH) or on the wholesale market in Munich. Fuchs: “We do, however, make a distinction between the individual product lines: Albertshofen is located in Franconia and Gundelfingen in Swabia. When it comes to a Franconian product, Albert gets a Franconian coat of arms to highlight the origin a little more. And of course, we are a cooperative with many small family businesses involved, which we also emphasize through our marketing. For example, we often print faces of individual producers on films and labels.”
Ready for the future
Despite the steady expansion of regional competitors and the use of state-of-the-art technology, the management of the Horticultural Center believes in its own strength. Using technologies such as production under artificial lighting is currently out of the question. This only makes sense if you build a brand new greenhouse with a corresponding surface area, said Fuchs. “We are a fairly small growing area and do not supply large quantities. If you do not specialize in niche products and do not lease any outdoor land, it will be difficult for mid-size growers to keep up with specialized large-scale industries.”
This article has already been published in the last issue
of the journal AGF Primeur
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