The German convenience sector has grown steadily in recent years. Consequently, there is a growing demand for processing machines. These are needed to process fruit and vegetable products efficiently and hygienically. Most are from domestic cultivation. Despite this market segment's steady development, there is still a world to be won. That is according to Bernd Vonhof. He represents five machinery suppliers. And as such, he assists German potato and vegetable processing companies.
"I connect suppliers and clients. They both have project requests. These range from very specific to broad and abstract. We help small, new vegetable processors as well as the large processing industry. I also visit a lot of processing companies that don't need a machine right away. I want to gauge where we could mean something for them in the long run", says Bernd, who works under the name Tre-F. He has represented the suppliers Eillert, Finis, FAM, ICS, and Foodeq since 2009.
Bernd Vonhof represents five machine suppliers in the German market.
Process optimization in fruit and vegetable processing
Bernd says there is currently a clear, interesting shift in Germany. "More and more growers see opportunities to process their own crops into semi-finished products. These products yield more financially for the grower. And, in many cases, they can use by-products too. This is also lucrative for the industrial processor in terms of process optimization. After all, then they've outsourced part of the processing and also have less waste."
Potato product exports flourishing
These days, Bernd sees potential in especially onion and potato processing. "Potato products head for Asia on a large scale. There, potatoes are considered an interesting alternative to rice. That's due to water shortages. French fries factories are under construction in places like China," he explains. "But it'll take ten years before they're self-sufficient. In Europe, the french fries market is just about saturated. Though, Germany is, of course, in a unique position. They have very specific potato products such as Knödel, Puffer, and Reibekuchen."
Convenience growing steadily
For a long time, convenience was German food retail's neglected child. According to Bernd, it still only occupies a limited share of supermarket shelves compared to the Netherlands. "Fruit and vegetable products often travel much longer distances in Germany. So, you can't compare their fresh logistics to the Netherlands. They also have a different eating culture. German shoppers are still often skeptical about fresh products with a longer shelf life. The frozen products' market share is much larger. However, this too is slowly changing," Bernd concludes.