Not only were there many interesting facts about the financial year 2021 for the members at the general meeting of Reichenau-Gemüse eG and Raiffeisen-Lagerhaus eG in the Inselhalle, but also a return of goods in the vegetable cooperative and dividends for the commodity cooperative. This meant that the chairman of the supervisory board, Egino Wehrle, could not only welcome many guests in these difficult times, but also see many satisfied faces.
With Raiffeisen-Lagerhaus, the vegetable distribution achieved a total turnover of almost 70 million euros. This figure also underlines the economic importance of cooperatives on the largest island in Lake Constance.
Egino Wehrle, chairman of the supervisory board
Higher payment for producers
With a volume of nearly 15,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables, a significantly higher outflow performance from growers was achieved, says cooperatives managing director Johannes Bliestle. This is mainly due to the commissioning of a new organic greenhouse in Singen/Beuren, with higher prices achieved for many products from Reichenau in 2021, the second year of the pandemic.
Of the total turnover due to the first productive occupation of the 4-hectare organic factory in Beuren, the importance of the market garden colonies for Reichenau vegetables in terms of sales has constantly changed. Meanwhile, 61% of Reichenau-Gemüse’s total sales come from the locations in Beuren, Aach or Mühlingen. The previous year, this figure was still 54%.
There was no change in the ratio between open field cultivation and greenhouse cultivation. With 95.2%, the focus is again on protected cultivation.
Organic continues to grow
A particularly significant fact is that 47% of production in value now comes from organic production; in volume, it is still 34% or 5,300 tonnes of organic vegetables. With this proportion of high-quality organic products, produced in accordance with the European organic, Bioland or Naturland guidelines, the cooperative is one of the most outstanding organic production sites in Germany for the cultivation of protected vegetables.
The start of the 2021 market gardening campaign was marked by a good start to the greenhouse lettuce campaign with around 1.4 million head lettuces. This was followed by around 6.6 million Vegetable Island cucumbers. With the 4.5 million organically produced cucumbers, the total production volume of fresh cucumbers amounted to 11 million pieces. The cucumber range was supplemented with 2.2 million additional mini cucumbers.
Booming eggplant production
The total tonnage of tomatoes on the island is close to 1,000 tons. To complete the cooperative’s total tomato production, there are an additional 2,300 tons of organic tomatoes of different varieties, sizes and colors. One of the highlights, again, is the Inselperle, a medium-sized and very tasty tomato.
As for fruit vegetables, there are more than 7 million peppers, the main production of the Singen/Beuren nursery in Hegau. A considerable push has been made in the production of eggplant, reaching almost 2 million pieces in 2021. Interesting alternatives to the classic eggplant have been tested in 2021; these will expand the range of eggplants in the years to come. These include the “Graffiti” eggplant and the elongated “Japanese eggplant”.
Pioneering investments in energy
The current subject “energy” is very present in the minds of producers; it was addressed in a presentation by General Manager Bliestle. In the two organic growing communities of Aach and Mühlingen, there has already been a dependency on waste heat from the biogas plants of agricultural neighbors since the construction of the greenhouses. In Singen/Beuren, producers are currently replacing two existing natural gas boilers with a CO2-neutral biomass boiler. The cooperative supported the project. Using category AI and AII wood waste, the heat on the site will be generated almost completely CO2 neutral from 2024. The installation, respecting the latest environmental standards, will be completed by the end of the year next. The request was made before the war in Ukraine and its consequences on the energy market.
Today, in the context of pressing social challenges such as climate change and energy consumption, sustainability encompasses much more than environmental protection and resource conservation; it is an indispensable part of a successful cooperative, said managing director Johannes Bliestle in the Inselhalle.
Based on an energy analysis of the entire facility in 2020, further measures were already taken last year to save energy. After the conversion to energy-saving LED lighting in the void hall and the extension of the hall in 2021, the entire outdoor area has also been converted to energy-saving LED lighting. This involves the use of light sources which are also very insect-friendly.
A wide range of environmental measures have also been implemented in the associated production facilities. For example, solar panels have been installed on the roofs of the gardeners’ estate in Aach and Mühlingen, and energy screens have been installed in greenhouses on the island of Reichenau. Nevertheless, further efforts will be needed to minimize cost increases in the energy sector.
According to managing director Bliestle, the Warengenossenschaft Raiffeisen-Lagerhaus also had a successful year, although it was again affected by the pandemic. The annual turnover amounts to approximately 10 million euros for the financial year 2020/2021. The wholesale/professional sector lost around 6% of its sales, while retail sales increased by 11% overall.
Elections and honors
Elections and honors were also on the agenda of the most important meeting. Matthias Keller was re-elected chairman of the board of both cooperatives. Supervisory board members Thomas Huber, Clemens Blum and Mathias Rückert, both candidates for election, also received their vote of confidence.
Franz Wurz was honored for his 50 years of membership in Raiffeisen-Lagerhaus. Mr. Wurz himself was a member of the cooperative’s supervisory board from 1973 to 2000 and was even chairman for five years. Also, in the Raiffeisen-Lagerhaus Klaus Regenscheit, Oskar Müller and Berta Faußner Wedele and in the Reichenau-Gemüse eG Rudi Rotzler were honored for this long membership.
Especially in times of skilled labor shortages, one is proud to honor long-serving employees, said Egino Wehrle, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Conny Keller, Franco Caruso and Giovanni Padula were honored for their 25 years of service at Reichenau-Gemüse eG. Daniel Spießer has been with the organization for ten years; After training as a specialist in warehouse logistics, he is now a team leader himself.
All of these successes could not have been achieved without a committed and motivated team. Mr. Wehrle thanked the management and all the employees for their great commitment in difficult times.
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