Tag: Germany

At the Markets Part Three – The New Zealand Visitor

And by New Zealand visitor I don’t mean me!

No, having gone past the sushi and the asparagus, I came across some product from The Yummy Fruit Company:

It’s great to see our apples here, and at such a good price.  That’s Euros on that ticket, which roughly translates to NZ $6.80.  If it moves at that price, that’s got to be good news for the grower.

All good, then.

Well, no actually.

I have concerns about what I’m seeing here.

Yummy is supposedly a premium brand.  Is the size of the fruit, the shape, colour or skin markings seen in the photo above typical of a premium grade Braeburn?  I think not. 

So what gives?  I know John Paynter, founder and guardian of the brand, well enough to think that he would have concerns too.  Can New Zealand really afford to be sending subpar fruit to one of its most important markets and hope to maintain good grower returns? 

I really hope your answer is the same as mine:  NO. 


At the Markets part one – The Imposter

My recent European sojourn found me in Nuremberg – a city that is both famous and infamous.  On the famous side, it is known for its contribution to the arts and Christmas; while for the infamous there’s the trials.

Nuremberg is an old city.  Like many medieval cities, there is a market square in front of the church – and this one is still in use regularly for a busy local farmers’ market.


It is very picturesque, with all the stalls resplendent in their candy striped awnings, and probably very much like it has been for centuries.

However, lurking in amongst the stalls trying to look inconspicuous, I came across this:



I’m not sure how farmer or local this is, but it does show how far some iconic foods have been able to travel from their homeland and become globally normal.

A Stroll Through Berlin (II)

You may remember the blog entry about munted expired Christmas trees flung indiscriminately off their balconies by Berliners in the weeks after Christmas.  I have been asked whether I had made that story up as some  Hortsource reader are clearly doubting Thomases. 

Politcal Footballs Are So Yesterday - How About A Political Christmas Tree Then?

The short answer is, “No, it’s the thruth, honest, Gov!”  Here is the proof. A couple of days after just about breaking my leg negotiating Christmas trees loitering on footpaths across the city, I came across this electioneering poster designed and displayed by the Berlin CDU – the conservative party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. It shows a candidate for the local body elections busy clinging to a Christmas tree.  The caption reads – “CDU cleans up.”  Abandoned Christmas trees are clearly a key political issue in Berlin, at least when it comes to local elections.  Any lessons for our elections later this year???

Staying with the concept of interesting sights.  Here is a carton of Jazz apples taking a couple of its minders for a stroll across the  Fruit Logistica exhibition.  A fairly sterile affair, a trade fair.  Everyone in his or her finery, spot lights on the product, every apple polished to make a good impression, crowds of people, no where to park the car, a need to get reaquainted with the concept called “winter coat” and “Garderobe”, the place where one needs to leave one’s coat in order to avoid suffering from overheating as one visited the fair.  When one wants to understand though how the punters on the street feel about new fancy apple varieties or if one wants to understand the scope of the market we are exporting into, one needs to keep wearing one’s coat and mingle with the locals in a spot where the locals shop! Like the Wochenmarkt – a German farmers’ market. 

Jazz apples with bodyguards

Apart from the aroma of Bratwurst and mulled wine which alone  are worth a visit, one gets to see apple varities one did not even know existed.  Many of these are heritage varieties, varities which existed when the old Kaiser Wilhelm was around – and you know what?  People are buying them.  The competition and the opportunity for our apple marketers is enormous!  A traditional apple market like Germany does not make it easy for something new from the Antipodes like Jazz to turn up and say, “oi, move over.  I am here now and want some shelf space”.  We should therefore not undestimated the effort companies like Turners & Growers and others have to go to, in order to achieve a degree of cut through and exposure, particularly in mature markets like continental Europe where every consumer is an expert!  Well done!

On another matter , I am yet to find a decent Royal Gala I am happy to finish in the local market here in Auckland.  What am I missing?  Bad season? Somebody better put me out of my misery and come up with an explanation, because I can’t accept that I should have to eat substandard apples in a country that prides itself on its pipfruit quality!

Kaiser Wilhelm Apples & Colleagues

Apple Buying Is Serious Business

Sticker, Sticker On The Wall, Yesterday On Fruit & Today In The Mall

Once upon a time, there was a banana company.  After a chequered career using different names, the banana company settled on  a new name, which it has stuck with now for many decades.  That name is Chiquita. For many years Chiquita then focused on its banana business and eventually they thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if we put little Chiquita stickers on every banana leaving our plantations in Honduras, Panama and elsewhere?”  So they did.  Every once in a while they asked themselves the question again, which why one can now buy Chiquita pineapple, Chiquita mangoes and Chiquita ‘god knows what’, depending on which part of the world one lives.  In recent years Chiquita has been asking itself a few other questions which are captured as captions under the three photos that follow.  (Photos taken in Frankfurt, early February 2011)

How About We Take The Chiquita Sticker Into The High Street And Stick It On The Front Door?

What Else Could We Sell Our Adoring Public? Particularly In Winter?

And If We Provide Some Nice Bright Yellow Chairs, We Might Even Sell Some Bananas For Dessert!

The concept employed by Chiquita has a name – brand migration. It is often played at the corporate level and usually with mixed results. Companies engaged in playing the game usually end up learning a few hard lessons such as

  • Success depends on consumer perception and not on player desire
  • The rules of the game differ between supermarket aisles
  • PRODUCT marketing strategies and SERVICE marketing strategies are different beasts altogether

Nevertheless, success can be sweet.  I wonder how long the potato grower queue is who want to discuss supply agreements with Chiquita!?

Where Have I Heard This Before?

A Prominent Image from the Zelger Produce Website

The latest edition of Fruchthandel arrived on my desk today.  As the magazine is aimed at the German fresh fruit & vegetable trade the articles it contains are inevitably written in the language of that country.  Quoting from an article is therefore not as simple as scanning in  a page but it involves engaging the grey matter some translation which is why I rarely get around to discuss what I read in that magazine. 

I need to make an exception though. My eye caught a column contributed by one Marcus Niebisch.  Mr Niebisch works for Munich based produce wholesaler Zelger GMbH, and  sits on the board of the Deutscher Fruchthandelsverband e. V., the German Produce Merchants Association (English website version available).  Here are a few gems from his column in which he discusses the state of the produce wholesale trade in his country vis-a-vis retailers and consumers. 

“A key driver of our activities should also be increased usage of fruit and vegetables…Have we lost our ability to influence the Point of Sale sector ( POS), that’s if we ever had it?…Is the structured grocery retail sector really the only bridge left between the producers for whom we provide services and the consumers who we try to tempt (with our products)? …How can we transform supplier confidence into consumer confidence?”    

I have taken the key statements made and lined them up.  The underlying message revolving around these sound bites is that the position the German wholesale produce trade finds itself in appears to be  not sustainable, so non-linear solutions are needed. 

Here is Niebisch again… 

“We need to generate our own POS (vehicle) which we are able to mould and care for ourselves.  At this Point of Service (not a typo, Niebisch specifically used ‘service’ here and not ‘sale’) we would be allowed to market the passion, which made us join the industry in the first place.  Maybe wholesalers should discover the collective “we”.  Are modern marketing options possibly our chance to connect again with the consumers and their, as well as our own, wishes?” 

If nothing else, here is confirmation yet again that the world has become a global village and what we might perceive to be a unique problem only applying to us is in fact generic and is present everywhere.