The German strawberry season has started, with a small delay due to the weather, with the first deliveries of strawberries grown in greenhouses, on the twelfth of April. Four large companies, with greenhouses, grow the strawberries for Landgard. Strawberries belong to the favorite fruit group in Germany; the 3.4 kilos of strawberries consumed per person last year are proof of that. They follow apples, bananas and sweet citrus fruits in the ranking of most successful fruit. And a representative survey showed that strawberries are a proud favorite of consumers between the ages of 10 to 25.
German strawberries from April until Christmas
The strawberries grown in greenhouses open the German season every year. These excellent tasting strawberries can be harvested over six or seven weeks. In the second week of May strawberries grown in tunnels in the open field reach the market, followed by strawberries grown under plastic by mid-May. And the season reaches its peak with regular open-field strawberries from the beginning of June. In July the greenhouses are prepared for the next season that can be harvested from the end of September to Christmas. This way trade and consumers have sufficient quantities of strawberries from Germany available in from April to Christmas. Landgard sells strawberries in packages of 250 grams, 500 grams and 1 kilo. German strawberries cover 50% of the demand. In 2015 the total harvest was, according to the German Statistical Office, 172,600 metric tons of which 92% was grown in the open field. 12,125 metric tons of strawberries were grown in greenhouses in 2015; this is double the amount compared 2012.
Elsanta queen of the strawberries
The most popular variety in Germany is Elsanta. Its large fruit combines good flavor, a good harvest and firmness, which is essential for retail and the preservation of the fruit. Melt-in-the-mouth strawberry varieties are particularly popular with German consumers. However these strawberries are more vulnerable compared to the firmer varieties when handled and transported. The four most important German varieties are Elsanta, the bright red Sonata, the early Clery and the Elegance.
Prices show an upward trend
Consumers had to pay more for a kilo of strawberries in 2015. The average price of 3.66 Euros was about 11% higher compared to the previous year. The farmers are satisfied with this increase because the labor-intensive strawberries have become more expensive due to the introduction of a minimum wage in Germany.
31% of the strawberries are sold in discount supermarkets, closely followed by “other points of sales” such as farm shops. 23% is sold in regular supermarkets, 10% on weekly markets and 8% in hypermarkets. The prices are the highest at weekly markets and farm shops this is mainly due to the wide range of German special varieties. In discount supermarkets with the international range of strawberries the prices are almost 19% below the average price.
Germany, strawberry country
During the last five years the global strawberry production increased by 5%. But, according to the Agricultural Market Information Company (AMI), the import to Germany barely increased. In Lower Saxony (43,500 metric tons), followed by North Rhine-Westphalia (31,400 metric tons) and Baden-Württemberg (28,900 metric tons), is where the most strawberries are grown states the German Statistical Office.
To increase the popularity of the German strawberries, and later on other German produce, the farmers’ cooperation Landgard started an alliance with the famous German TV-personality Melanie Müller.
In addition to the German strawberries Landgard is offering a wide range to its customers throughout the entire year, also imports produce, and mainly from Spain. The Spanish strawberry season started in December 2015 and ends in May. Import is essential until the beginning of the German open field season to meet the customers demand. Martin Baumert, the director of Landgard Fruit & Vegetable Holding, emphasizes the importance of product safety. “The Spanish strawberries that we import have to meet the same strict standards and checks as the German farmers. Landgard cooperates with long-standing, reliable suppliers and they all passed the quality checks this winter,” states Martin Baumert. Because it takes Spanish strawberries two days to reach the German market the firmer varieties are more popular. The main varieties in Spain are Primoris, Fortuna, Candonga and Victoria. These are the early and medium-early varieties. The taste of all strawberries is highly dependent on the sugar content, which is measured in degrees Brix, and influenced by the hours of exposure to sunlight. This is a prerequisite for the ripening of strawberries, even in the south.