The ongoing Corona crisis continues to make itself felt at the Düsseldorf wholesale market. “There are significantly fewer walk-in customers than usual, people are increasingly foregoing shopping on site. Instead, people are picking up more on order and there are more bank transfers instead of cash payments,” says Mustafa Kamcili, managing director of Morgenland Ltd & Co, based at the Düsseldorf wholesale market.
The pandemic-related precautionary measures and requirements have also had a huge impact on the sales of wholesale market companies. “The stores in the pedestrian zones of the city centers are still closed, which is why the vegetable stores and weekly markets are also recording lower sales. Added to this is the loss of food service. The only things that are doing well are specialty stores outside the pedestrian zones and, of course, the booming farm stores. The bottom line is that this is about cost-covering for us, but unfortunately there is not much to earn.”
Mustafa Kamcili (l) during FreshPlaza’s wholesale market visit in the winter of 2017.
In this respect, current market activity shows a very different picture than last year, Kamcili looks back. “Last year, business was booming, especially at the beginning of the crisis, the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables was huge. I suspect that consumers are now cooking a little less at home again,” he adds.
This situation is also reflected at the product level: “The citrus market has weakened somewhat in recent weeks, but this is understandable due to the change of season and the increasing presence of German strawberries and asparagus. Strangely, however, pineapples are also selling hard. In mangoes and avocados, again, there are significant surpluses with low demand. Spanish stone fruits, on the other hand, are more likely to have smaller yields due to the cold weather,” outlines Kamcili, who has been based in Düsseldorf’s Blumenhalle since 2017.
Unfair pricing policy
According to Kamcili, however, what is causing the wholesale companies the most trouble is the unfair pricing policy of food retailers. “Despite Corona, food retailers continue to run promotions, even on products that are rather expensive to buy, such as cucumbers the other day. We as wholesale market traders simply cannot keep up with them in terms of price, because we buy smaller quantities, but we still have to explain it to our customers somehow. In other words, the discrepancy between our wholesale offers and the prices in food retailing is becoming ever greater. From my point of view, this problem is not caused by Corona, but in times of crisis it resurfaces again.”
Kamcili is also rather critical about the future of the wholesale market in the longer term. “The regular wholesale customers are getting older; new blood is missing on both sides. In my view, the classic pick-up business will gradually disappear in favor of flexible delivery.” In addition to this, the experienced wholesaler still sees room for new and surprising things. “We briefly offered Spanish walnuts as an alternative for France at Christmas. Although we didn’t expect it, it was an absolute hit! People are still asking specifically for that item.”