Rolf Strobel from the Essen Frischezentrum on the future of the wholesale market:

"From raw goods to finished products - all stages can be found here"

For 40 years now, Frischezentrum Essen has been located in Lützowstrasse in Essen's northern quarter. On a good nine hectares, the entire product range - fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, as well as packaging and catering supplies - can be found in one concentrated location. Modern sales, storage and work areas, refrigeration, production and packaging facilities, and a modern infrastructure ensure the smooth and efficient movement of goods.

We spoke with Managing Director Rolf Strobel about the status quo as well as the future of the fresh produce center and the market companies located there.

In practice, the wholesale market consists of two limited liability companies, one for the administration of the land under hereditary building rights and a day-to-day business limited liability company in which the retailers are united as shareholders and which acts as the actual wholesale market operator. Among other things, this management structure has allowed the wholesale market's infrastructure to be kept up to date, Strobel said.

''There have been several relocations and associated new construction projects over the past decade, which is why three cutting operations, among others, find their place in the wholesale market these days. Last year, we equipped the canopies of our sales stalls with LED lights, which in turn also benefits the tenants. At the moment, the Buschhüter company's site is being equipped with new loading ramps. The next step would be a photovoltaic system, which we want to implement by 2025."

Buschhüter has recently added three new ramps for loading and unloading perishable food products.

The medium-sized wholesale site is completely utilized these days, Strobel continues. This may be due in part to the site's commitment to 2050. "We are very proud of being able to offer a variegated range of products, ranging from the convenience of large-scale kitchens to online retail and full-range suppliers FrischeParadies and Gilde Rhein-Ruhr. With our newest tenant, Von der Stein, our range of products is now enriched by direct imports from the Paris-based wholesale market Rungis."

Rolf Strobel provided insights into the vegetable department of Gilde Frisch-Markt Rhein-Ruhr eG during FreshPlaza's visit to the wholesale market. In addition to his work as Managing Director of the food wholesaler, he has been Managing Director of Frischezentrum Essen GmbH for many years.

Clockwise: Hendrik von der Stein is the newest tenant at Frischezentrum Essen, the team from Liersch, Thomas Schönfeld-Simon from Gastroservice Lorenz Köhlen, and Ercan Duruöz from Elele GmbH.

Individualization instead of standardization
Nevertheless, Strobel says the market in the Rhine-Ruhr region is particularly fiercely contested due to the proximity of the municipal wholesale markets in Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, and Cologne, as well as the Fresh Park Venlo on the German-Dutch border.

Strobel: "In view of the modern logistics and the area and hall size, Fresh Park Venlo, in particular, is a major competitor for us. Consequently, we are positioning ourselves more and more as a local supplier as well as a niche provider by explicitly focusing on a personal and customer-specific approach. In other words, it is not standardization but individualization that sets us apart and is therefore a clear competitive advantage. In short, we have certainly found a model that is ready for the future."

While a lack of personnel and junior staff characterize the wholesale market business in many places, interestingly enough, many younger faces are to be found at the Essen Frischezentrum. "At many of our market companies, such as Liersch, Buschhüter, Josef Hesse, and Lorenz Köhlen, the next generation is already working in the business. Basically, we find that the current market companies are, without exception, sustainably marketable," Strobel further sums up. "We were also very concerned that increasing energy and operating costs would force certain traders to go out of business, which fortunately did not become a reality. This is again thanks to the electricity price brake coupled with our moderate rents and manageable ancillary costs."

From raw product to finished product
Nowadays, two commercial kitchens called Essen für Kids, as well as Kiddy Food, also find their place at the local wholesale market site. The raw product needed is purchased directly on-site from neighboring market companies. "Of course, this is also an important argument for the wholesale market vis-à-vis the city of Essen. From raw goods to finished products - all stages can be found here in the fresh produce center. This unique product diversity sets us apart, and we are committed to continuing to expand this service in the coming years," concludes Strobel.

Want to find out more about the Essen Frischezentrum? Click here for the complete picture gallery of our wholesale market visit in March 2023.

For more information:
Rolf Strobel
Frischezentrum Essen GmbH
Lützowstraße 10
45141 Essen
Tel.: +49 (0201) 32000 – 10
Fax +49 (0201) 32000 – 70

Gilde Frisch-Markt Rhein-Ruhr eG
Frischezentrum Essen
Tel.: +49 (0201) 32000 – 0
Fax +49 (0201) 32000 – 55

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