Despite the current circumstances, the German greenhouse vegetable harvest has gone according to plan so far. On the island of Reichenau - one of the most important growing regions in Germany - the traditional switch from summer crops to the winter range is now taking place. "Reichenau tomatoes are expected to be phased out this or next week, but the supply of lamb's lettuce is now suddenly picking up speed," reports Bernd Jäger from the vegetable wholesaler of the same name in Schlier (Ravensburg), which offers Reichenau produce on the open market.
"The first tomato growers have already emptied their greenhouses, so that soon there will be no more supplies," Jäger says. "However, without exception the quality of the last batches is very good, which is why the prices mostly remain firm and stable." However, the wholesaler can look back on a busy summer season. "During the first lockdown, there were enormous market fluctuations. In the summer in particular, all vegetables were traded at very high prices. Tomatoes were priced about 10-20 percent higher, broccoli and broccoli were in some cases 30 percent more expensive than the year before."
Open field and protected lamb's lettuce
Parallel to the approaching end of the tomato season, the supply of regional lamb's lettuce is now rapidly picking up speed. "According to current forecasts, it should really get going in mid-November. Fortunately, lamb's lettuce is not a typical 'gastronomy article', because cleaning the product involves a lot of work. Instead, we sell a lot in regional food stores and farm stores. Therefore, despite the crisis, I rather see a good marketing situation on the free market."
The specialist wholesaler offers not only greenhouse goods from the island of Reichenau, also selling open field goods that are purchased elsewhere. "In terms of cleanliness and appearance, the greenhouse goods are usually a bit ahead. The open field lettuces, on the other hand, have a slightly nutty taste and is therefore a bit more aromatic. In addition to this, goods from open-air production are usually a tad cheaper - about 1-2 euros per crate". Until the end of the season in February-March, both articles are nevertheless well received by customers, says Jäger.
Sales slump due to closure of hospitality industry
A large part ofthe turnover of the family business is normally generated in the catering trade. "Since the closure of the hospitality industry just under two weeks ago, our total sales have slumped by an estimated 50 to 60 percent. In our district of Ravensburg, there are currently about 10% more new infections compared to the previous week," Jäger says, commenting on the alarming figures. "Nevertheless, we hope that the situation will relax somewhat in December and that the gastronomy will be open as usual at Christmas."