Herbs such as basil, parsley, chives, mint, thyme, rosemary, and sage continue to be very popular. However, as Jan Will (right in the picture) from the Albertshofen-based horticultural company of the same name tells us, demand is currently stagnating. Will specializes in organic potted herbs, which he can offer all year round. "We estimate that sales have dropped by ten to 20 percent. Of course, that also depends very much on the respective customer segment. Especially in the garden center segment, sales have slumped, which is due to the high prices. Material and labor costs, as well as gas prices, have intensified, resulting in a 15 percent increase in our overall costs. At least we were able to pass the additional costs on to our customers."
Demand for potted herbs declining
In addition to the garden center sector, sales to market gardeners were also down, he said. "Our goods are marketed mainly to wholesalers in southern Germany and to eastern German conurbations such as Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig. The herbs are grown organically, but we sell them as both conventional and organic goods." Five years ago, Will was still exporting his herbs to Switzerland. "However, the law there has changed in that they must first sell their own production before they can access imported goods. This has eliminated us as a supplier."
Furthermore, he said, he notices that interest in potted herbs is generally declining, while demand for packaged herbs, such as those in 25-g packages, is on the rise again. "Customers continue to reach for standard herbs. Specialty herbs are more of a stopgap. After basil entered the market 35 years ago, hardly anything new followed in a big way. Rosemary and mint have also been established for some time. The potential for new herbs is there, as our customers also express interest, but nothing new has emerged yet."
"Depending on the weather, the herbs may grow too fast, so we have too much produce. In turn, as soon as it is too cold, quantities can also be missing. In addition, we are not allowed to treat organic products additionally. As soon as the produce is there, it has to be sold directly," he says, referring to the volatile weather. He also mentions the limited availability of water as another challenge: "We are only allowed to water the plant from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. in the summer to save water. In the meantime, nothing is allowed to be watered to minimize evaporation. As a result, some farms in our region have already had to change their irrigation technology." In that respect, he is pleased with the rainfall.
Switching to organic ornamentals
"We have already considered expanding the area under cultivation. However, in the future, we want to devote ourselves to the production of organic ornamental plants and reduce the proportion of potted herbs. I would like to fundamentally restructure the farm." The expansion is planned for the year 2025-2026.