Autumn and winter stand not only for products such as mushrooms or citrus fruits, but also for lamb's lettuce. At the Karlsruhe wholesale market, we met Andreas Frey from Gemüsebau Frey Ltd. The company has developed from a grower to a real wholesale company in Karlsruhe. We talked to him about the current situation of lamb's lettuce, but also about current trends in sales and at the wholesale market.
"Currently, our sales are going well. We are busy meticulously inspecting the changeover to foreign goods; we have already had to reject various pallets because the quality did not meet standards. Quality is more important than anything else."
Managing Director Andreas Frey with a pallet of lamb's lettuce Zapf
Important for appreciation of the product lamb's lettuce
One thing is certain: it must be economically profitable for both the grower and the farm, as well as for the end consumer. "The price remains stable throughout the season," says Frey. "Whereas a month ago, we could sell about 30-50 kg per day, now we sell between 350-500 kg per day. The appreciation for the product sets in over time, but it's there. The important thing is to maintain the quality continuously. Price is only a secondary factor." Frey stresses that, in the meantime, it is important to keep the price stable even in the face of fluctuating demand.
Harvesting process for lamb's lettuce
The managing director of the Karlsruhe-based company also described the work processes behind the lamb's lettuce: "Cut by hand, the lamb's lettuce runs along a belt into a harvesting box, from the harvesting box into a bubble bath, and from this in turn into a kind of washing machine to filter out the sandy seeds, etc. Then the lamb's lettuce ends up on another belt, where employees sort it out by hand according to certain criteria."
Producer prices need to increase by 10-12%
Although the region has recently been able to breathe again in terms of weather, growers are currently struggling again with wetness in the fields. "The lamb's lettuce must, after all, be cut very finely above ground. Since the soil becomes very soft due to the wetness, this requires additional fettling, which also involves more effort. Understandably, the farmer is now trying to create the best possible ratio, which has sometimes increased producer prices by 10-12%," says Frey. In addition, the producers, as well as all other parts of society, are strongly affected by the rising costs of wages, energy, fuel, and other costs everywhere.
The lamb's lettuce is delivered packed in 1-kg bags to create a better climate for the lamb's lettuce. The season started at the end of September/beginning of October and will continue until the end of March. "The lamb's lettuce has a good quality; in terms of taste, it is nutty and also very nice to look at. At the same time, we offer a customer-friendly, pre-cut product." Frey sources the lamb's lettuce from Pfalzmarkt in Mutterstadt and Zapf Frischgemüse in Kandel, among others.