The Corona crisis has had a serious impact on sales in the food industry, especially in the hospitality industry. This is also being felt by manufacturers and suppliers in the convenience sector. "The sales sectors that are important for us, such as canteens, service stations and petrol stations -the high-frequency locations- have been hit particularly hard," says Daniel Frey, Managing Director of Frey Gemüse, looking back on the past few eventful months.
In terms of cultivation, 2020 is not a bad year for the vegetable growing and processing company based in Kirchleerau (Canton Aargau). "We have not had to deal with prolonged dry periods or major frost problems and our crops have received regular rainfall. So far, yields have been quite satisfactory across the entire range," says Frey, when summarizing the harvest year so far.
Frey AG headquarters in Kirchleerau (Canton Aargau)
However, the optimal weather conditions have accelerated the growth of the vegetable crops too much. "Our leek and cabbage crops have simply grown too fast. An early end to the season by the end of October could therefore probably not be ruled out. The weather in the coming weeks will be decisive in this respect."
Production line of the Frey company.
Covid-19: Variable effects in the fresh food industry
While vegetable growing has progressed largely according to plan, sales in this exceptional marketing year have been rather sluggish so far. "The crisis has created variable effects in the food industry. The above-mentioned sales areas have been hard hit, while delivery services, on the other hand, are currently experiencing a boom," Frey says. Overall, the fresh produce supplier is expecting a ten percent loss in sales over the financial year.
According to Frey, the crisis has also considerably inhibited the willingness to innovate in the product selection. "Innovation is currently very difficult because of Corona. The crisis has shown us that external factors can have an extreme impact on our market. Long-term product trends are therefore difficult to assess, which is why we as a convenience supplier are trying to maintain a certain flexibility in the recipe. This allows us to react immediately to new developments in the market, if necessary."
Packaged products were particularly in demand during the lockdown for reasons of hygiene. Frey predicts that this topic will continue to occupy the industry in the coming years.
High Convenience as a trademark
The Frey company is firmly established within the Swiss gastronomy industry. Over the years, the traditional company has continuously developed and processes both its own products and purchased raw materials into innovative convenience concepts. "Two years ago we launched a new project. We freed up processing capacities for new concepts. Since then, we have been specializing even more in complex recipes, such as portioned menus, fresh soups and much more."