As the largest consumer market in Europe, German households increased their spending on fruit and vegetables by almost 6% compared with a 1% spending increase on food and beverages as a whole.
“This means that fruit and vegetables once again belong to the most important categories in the retail trade,” says Helmut Hübsch of the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK - Association of Consumer Research).
“Households purchase fruit and/or vegetables an average of 86 times per year: 86 times in 52 calendar weeks means that households buy fruit, vegetables, or both more than once a week.”
According to GfK data, vegetable retail sales in Germany reached a record high of almost €6.9 billion (£5.9 billion) in 2016, an increase of almost 5% from the previous year.
Apples, bananas and oranges were the most sought-after fruit, and tomatoes, carrots and onions the most popular vegetables.
GfK said vegetable sales at the retail level in Germany are expected to have risen to €6.9 billion, which mainly reflects higher prices as purchase volume rose by just 1%.
The higher price is due in part to "real" price increases for comparable products and also due to "trading up" within product ranges, demonstrating a growing preference for more highly-priced goods.
In fresh fruit, a retail sales record was set by rising 5% to €7.2 billion (£6.2 billion), with purchase volumes remaining 'constant at best'.
The group said sales in fresh potatoes rose dramatically by 11% to €1.1 billion (£949 million), despite purchase volumes falling by 4%.
"The market for fresh fruit and vegetables is heavily influenced by weather conditions. It is impossible to control all of the production conditions for these natural products, even when they are grown under cover," AMI said.
"The recent frosts in Italy and Spain illustrate the impact of weather conditions on produce. In contrast to dry foods, fluctuations in supply and price are unavoidable.
"This is less a sign of non-transparent manipulation than it is of a functioning market."
Fruit Logistica celebrates 25 years
Meanwhile, there were more encouraging statistics to come out of today’s (February 7) opening press conference.
For the first time ever more than 3,000 companies from 86 countries are exhibiting under one roof as Fruit Logistica celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Aside from hosting, Germany is also the partner country for the 2017 event running from February 8-10.
Italy continues to have the most stands with 516, followed by Spain (367), the Netherlands (318), Germany (283) and France (249).
“Fruit Logistica was launched in 1993 in response to an industry demand and has seen impressive development ever since. We started the first year with 100 exhibitors. In 2017, for the first time, the number of exhibitors will top the 3,000 mark,” said Dr Christian Goke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmgH.
“As a leading global trade fair, Fruit Logistica is a don't-miss event for players across the entire value chain. Not only does the trade fair offer outstanding business opportunities, it has also gained a solid reputation as a platform for information and innovations."
European produce harvest
The EU fruit harvest in 2016-17 was expected to be down 3% at 38.2 million metric tonnes (MT), while the vegetable harvest was up 1% at 63.5 million MT, according to AMI.
With the exception of citrus, all fruit crops were down slightly in the EU, with a 5% fall in stonefruit, pears down 9% and even a 2% drop in apples, albeit down on a very high year in the previous season.
"After a marked increase last year, EU table grape production fell slightly again," AMI said.
"Although there was a pause in the upwards trend in soft fruit for 2016, this does not indicate a reversal. Production capacity, particularly for blueberries, continues to increase."
The group added that poor kiwifruit harvests in Italy meant the crop for that fruit was down by 13%, while Spain was set for a "considerably larger" 2016-17 citrus harvest.
"But excessive rainfall in mid-December 2016 and frosts in mid-January are likely to affect the stability of goods," the group added.