The frozen and fresh food industry in Germany warns of imminent production stops in the food industry in view of the high energy prices and calls for state aid. “There are significant supply gaps in the daily food supply for people in Germany. The situation is more than serious,” says an open letter from the industry, addressed to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck and Federal Minister of Food Cem Özdemir (both Greens).
“Companies now fear that production lines will soon come to a standstill and that refrigerated logistics centers for food distribution will be closed. Some are even preparing for possible insolvency.” Because the earnings situation is deteriorating every day and the liquidity situation is becoming more and more tense. "It's a minute to twelve."
The background to this is the dramatically increased prices for electricity and gas supply, which are a particular burden on manufacturers of frozen food and fresh products.
"The food industry is currently experiencing the worst crisis since the end of the Second World War," says the letter, which was initiated by the German Frozen Food Institute (DTI) and the Association of German Cold Stores and Cold Logistics Companies (VDKL) and also by five other industry associations from the food industry was signed.
These include the Meat Industry Association (VDF), the Federal Fish Association and the German Fruit Trade Association (DFHV). Nevertheless, according to the lawsuit, there is no financial support for the manufacturers of frozen food, for the cold stores and the logistics companies.
According to the industry associations, however, this can quickly lead to empty shelves in supermarkets and discounters. "Act now - otherwise the refrigerators and freezers for the German population will soon be empty," the letters say.
In any case, the frozen food industry has long been preparing for crisis scenarios, reports DTI Managing Director Sabine Eichner to WELT. "The situation is tense and the load limit has been reached, so the companies have to reduce their ranges in an emergency."
The associations involved are now appealing to the federal government to provide financial support for particularly energy-intensive medium-sized companies. "In the short term, open the energy cost containment program for all medium-sized companies in the deep-freeze chain," the letter said. And that fast. "Announcements do not help and are not enough," warn the signatories, who also demand "top priority" when it comes to securing the energy supply in Germany.
According to DTI boss Eichner, the fact that an open letter is used is due to the lack of reaction from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) for weeks to various letters and calls for help from associations from the entire food industry, which is after all the fifth largest branch of industry in this country is with a turnover of 186 billion euros and 638,000 employees in almost 6200 companies. "Minister Özdemir apparently accepts that companies go bankrupt," concludes Eichner. "The need is great, but nobody listens to us."
And in fact, similar allegations come from other parts of the industry. At the same time, politicians must have a great interest in a competitive food industry in Germany, according to various sources. "You can't just regulate everything at the socio-political level," complains DTI representative Eichner, referring to topics such as the tank discount or the energy price flat rate.
"You have to provide relief much earlier so that problems don't arise in the first place and inflation rates don't get that high." This included both targeted help for companies and an expansion of the energy supply.
In principle, the food industry welcomes the planned cost containment measures of the traffic light government as part of the third relief pact. However, the admission criteria urgently need to be adjusted so that more companies can be protected.
"Due to the exploding energy costs, many German food producers have their backs to the wall," reports Peter Feller, Deputy General Manager of the Federal Association of the German Food Industry (BVE). "They are dependent on extensive relief in order to be able to continue producing at all."
Especially since potential savings are largely exhausted, as stated in the open association letter. "In the past few years, energy-intensive companies have already achieved a maximum level of energy efficiency in their own operational interest."
In addition, the burdens caused by high energy prices are currently the main problem, but by no means the only one. "In addition, there are disrupted supply chains, staff shortages and shortages of raw materials," the letter says. “Companies can no longer compensate for these massive cost increases through savings or by passing on a proportion of the sales prices to customers.”
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