In the vegetable growing region of Pfalz, organic farming is rapidly increasing: from last year alone, there was a growth of 20%, both in terms of area and turnover. This is also noticed by Bernd Kugelmann, who cultivates zucchini, pumpkin, celery, leek and lamb's lettuce on 60 hectares of organic farmland in Kandel. The goods are sold to all different channels of the German trade.
Bernd Kugelmann among his zucchinis
At present, Kugelmann sells well over 30 tons of zucchini a week, or up to 100 tons when there are promotions. This adds up to about 700 tons of zucchini per season. Overall, the consumption of courgettes in Germany is declining, but the organic share continues to increase. He has witnessed a growth of 25% compared to last year. He also expects to see more growth again next year.
The vegetables are now being supplied exclusively to the retail trade. This is a relatively new development: "Until three years ago, everything was packed in trays and/or flowpacks. Today, we are moving products to banderole packaging, where possible. Of course, products like lamb's lettuce or rocket are not suitable for this purpose, but for courgettes and celery, banderoles are perfect."
This type of packaging is well received by the consumer, who, according to Kugelmann, is the most important factor in the choice of packaging: "Ultimately, the consumer decides what is offered in the trade. This also applies to product selection, otherwise there would not be the diversity in winter products we are currently seeing."
Harvest workers at work
Many producers are desperately looking for seasonal workers, but there was not a real scarcity felt in Kandel: "The minimum wage has not brought the expected problems, but I would like to offer my helpers a certain standard." That means Kugelmann has invested in a new harvesting aid, which simplifies the strenuous work for its employees: "Now we can work at higher temperatures and bring in 7,000-10,000 kilos per day." The harvest is scheduled to continue until the last week of October. For the next year, Kugelmann is planning to build a new packaging hall, as well as expanding his celery acreage.