Kira Weißbach and Birgit Unterhuber from Markthallen München:

Photo report: "Markthallen München represents the food and general interest services that are provided here"

About 300,000 tons are loaded annually at the Munich wholesale market. Despite various challenges, import volumes fluctuated only marginally. "After we had to put up with some crises in recent years, the situation is now stabilizing again," says Kira Weißbach, manager at Markthallen München. "We will not be able to return to the level of 2018/2019 because many things have changed. The traders had to change their thinking in the face of staff shortages and the high energy costs, among other things."

Click here to see the photo report on the Munich wholesale market.

For example, the trend is emerging that goods are being picked up less and less on-site and instead being delivered steadily more by retailers. Although the weather has not necessarily played along recently, the retailers are basically optimistic. We spoke with Kira Weißbach and Birgit Unterhuber, Head of Communications, at the wholesale market in Munich's district of Sendling.

Kira Weißbach and Birgit Unterhuber

City of Munich shows investment appetite
The wholesale market, built in 1912, was rebuilt in the 1940s and 1950s, respectively, and can remain in Sendling thanks to a city council decision on its location. "However, a new building for the wholesale market hall is pending, which will be constructed and operated by an investor so that the traders can continue to operate in accordance with all official regulations," says Weißbach.

In order to be more energy efficient, the construction of photovoltaic systems is also regularly examined as part of the structural maintenance of the building. "There are many listed buildings on the site. However, structural engineering is likely to be the biggest issue here. Because everything you see here has a basement. These areas first had to be strengthened so that the 40-ton trucks could also drive along outside again. The city invested a lot of money in this, and the merchants also had to accept some restrictions at times. However, the city must be praised for its efforts. After all, it also runs the weekly markets in addition to the wholesale market," Weißbach points out. Throughout Germany, the city of Munich operates the largest number of weekly markets.

"The city of Munich has recognized that without the wholesale market, the weekly markets and the four permanent markets would not exist in the form they do, in other words: neither the Viktualienmarkt, the Wiener Markt, the Elisabethmarkt, nor the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt. But a wholesale market is also important for all the smaller stores. There is a great synergy effect here. When I started here five years ago, we were still told that we didn't deliver to a single discounter. That would be unthinkable today." The catchment area of the Munich wholesale store is the greater Munich area, Bavaria, Salzburg, and South Tyrol.

Trends at the wholesale market
It is difficult to estimate how high the organic percentage is, he said. "There is indeed one operation that offers only organic goods. But what we notice is that regionality is now clearly more important to customers," Unterhuber says. Both managers also expressly welcome the fact that there is still a large proportion of farmers who offer their goods locally. Furthermore, the full occupancy rate in the halls is also pleasing.

Despite multiple crises, no too big changes could be detected either. "Traders can regulate their own prices to a large extent. In addition, the number of import volumes has not changed noticeably. In the case of farmer's markets, we are again seeing a slight decline, which is why we have supported them accordingly. But I am confident that overall things are going well again," says Weißbach.

The Munich market halls since 2007
Although the wholesale market has basically been around for a good 100 years, the company has only been operating under the name Markthallen München since 2007. "Previously, there were still the operating divisions 'Schlacht- und Viehhof' (slaughterhouse and livestock). Since we share the grounds together anyway, it was only logical to combine all these areas under one roof," says Unterhuber. "We have an economic plan that we have to present to the city council. But we are just as much a separate entity within the municipal department."

"We are not a separate legal entity," Weißbach adds. "We have fixed assets and fees at our disposal, which we have to manage on a non-profit basis. However, we don't have a connection and use obligation. Therefore, we also have to manage the operation reasonably. Our claim is therefore that trade here is perpetual, and customers are also inspired to come."

On the future of the Munich wholesale market
Having a new wholesale market hall built would still be pending. "That involves a time commitment that we have to bridge without causing a turnover of traders and employees. We'll do everything we can to make sure they can continue to trade even if a construction site were to develop here. But it will certainly be challenging to provide the logistics that the retailers need here. The good thing is that we already have a large truck parking area here where they can rest and recharge their refrigeration units at the same time. Recently, there are also energy columns there, such as e-charging stations for trucks," the plant manager said.

"It is important to all wholesale markets that the population is made aware of how important wholesale markets are for the food supply. Because without them, there would be no weekly markets and no small fruit and vegetable stores," Weißbach states. "The culture and the cityscape will also change without them. We want to commission a study on behalf of 'GFI Deutsche Frischemärkte' to shed light on how important the entire network and interfaces are that a wholesale market covers. After all, the Munich market halls represent the food and public service that is provided here."

The international interest in wholesale markets was also evident again, he said. "We had some visitors from Azerbaijan, Russia as well as from African and Asian countries who took a look at our wholesale market because they are considering installing one again in their own country and are using our location as a best-practice example, so to speak," says Unterhuber.

Click here to see the photo report on the Munich wholesale market.

For more information:
Kira Weißbach and Birgit Unterhuber
Markthallen München
Tel.: 089 233-38500
Fax: 089 233-38595  

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