Jürgen Hubounig, Managing Director of Zimpelmann Select-Fruit GmbH & Co. KG:

High demand for flower mixtures from South Africa

Prices for edible flowers from South Africa have always been stable, according to Jürgen Hubounig, managing director of Zimpelmann Select-Fruit GmbH & Co. KG. "In the airfreight industry, every single item is looked at, in other words: how the tariffs of the individual flights develop from week to week. Prices from both South Africa and Israel have remained stable so far. During the pandemic, however, price levels changed massively as large quantities of masks and medicines were transported. Air freight from Asia was then suddenly between 50 and 70 percent more expensive. However, the situation is back to a normal level."

Hubounig took over the company in 2013 from the Zimpelmann family, who previously ran the company for 20 years.

Jürgen Hubounig and Nicole Hubounig

High demand for flower mixtures
He also used to offer edible blossoms from Israel, but he says he only focuses on goods from South Africa. "Since we sell a lot of mini-vegetables from South Africa, we imported the edible flowers directly with them," Hubounig said.

The produce is available year-round. "Flower mix" and viola are among the most sought-after merchandise, with rose petals being very popular on Mother's Day as well as Valentine's Day. However, the greatest interest is in the blossom mixes, which are sold in various tray formats to wholesalers, but also to smaller retail stores. For special requests, we also sell single varieties in various containers and sizes."

The flowers from South Africa are marketed in boxes of eight trays, each with different size units. "Some major customers buy the blossoms from us toward fall, which is when their own production comes to an end. In the process, we also sell bulk packages of 400 to 500 g."

Main sales with flight goods
The main business for the Cologne-based company, however, is importing products such as bean and sugar snap peas from Kenya and mangoes and papaya from Peru, Mexico, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and other countries, he said. "For decades, our suppliers have marketed our goods with the in-house, legally protected brand 'Select.' The flower business still took a larger share when we cooperated directly with food retailers. Especially at Christmas, a lot was sold in this line of business, but we have since discontinued it because it was no longer possible to establish a good partnership with them."

As a result, he says, he is concentrating on sales to wholesale markets and C&C stores in Germany and Austria. Certainly, our goods also reach food retailers again via our wholesale customers. But that is no longer our direct focus," Hubounig explains. "We mainly use passenger planes to import our goods, which fly back from the countries of origin without freight, which is also reflected positively in the CO2 balance. In addition, this way, we can also better support farmers and traders in the countries of origin."

Sales in restaurants and hotels
During the pandemic, he suffered a 15 to 20 percent drop in sales. "Our customer base can be found in a wide variety of regions, which also more or less carry a 'redistribution' function. One of our customers from the Allgäu region, for example, supplies just about all the top hotels and top restaurants in his region. So we don't just have major customers in metropolitan areas like Hamburg, Berlin, and Munich, but also customers who target excellent buyers from the respective regions," says Hubounig.

"Kitchens hardly have the time to properly prepare fresh produce due to staff shortages, among other things. Therefore, our ready-to-cook products of high quality are purchased, with which the cooks basically only have to take the goods out of the shell and put them into the pot or pan because the strings and such are also removed by us beforehand."

Images from Zimpelmann Select-Fruit GmbH & Co. KG

For more information:
Jürgen Hubounig
Zimpelmann Select-Fruit GmbH & Co. KG
Raderberger Str. 202
50968, Köln
Tel.: +49 (0)221 - 36 79 47 0
Fax: +49 (0)221 - 36 79 47 99
Email: zimpelmann@select-fruit.de

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