More regional and sustainable City of Bonn seeks new company to run the produce market

Bonn · The daily produce market in Bonn’s city center is to become more regional and sustainable: That's why the city of Bonn is putting out a tender for a new company to run the market. But the city also wants it to become a more attractive place for people to linger awhile.

 Currently at the daily produce market in Bonn city center, there is already a big variety of fruit and vegetables from the region.

Currently at the daily produce market in Bonn city center, there is already a big variety of fruit and vegetables from the region.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

The City of Bonn does not want to extend the contract for the Deutsche Marktgilde (DMG) which has operated the Bonn daily produce market at the Old Town Hall for around 15 years now. Produce sellers and customers are critical of the move, but can also envisage some changes. Among other things, the administration wants to make it a more attractive place for people to be and make it more regional. The Deutsche Marktgilde plans to submit a new tender.

"I would find it a shame if the daily produce market were to be changed."

Six sausages for 9.49 euros: Petra Brüggen knows what she wants. She made just one small stop at the market on her bike. "I would find it a pity if the daily market was changed. It is a Bonn landmark ", she says. A few years ago, she organized a market day with schoolchildren and explained healthy eating to them based on the regional products available there for purchase. But she also sees problems that could be addressed. "Delivery traffic and transport logistics, for example." She says there are now projects in which both fixed and fold-out canopies are put up - and cargo bikes deliver the goods in an ecologically sound way.

Snack carts serve a range of Indian to Swabian food

At present, Bonn's weekly market has a fairly classic set-up. The merchants come with their vans, sell directly over the built-in counter or set up tables. At the obelisk, there are snack carts, from Indian to Swabian, doing business especially at lunchtime. "This is a good addition. Because the normal daily market is considered a bit boring by some people, especially younger people. At the snack bar, you can meet friends and stay awhile," says Ingo Johnson. He is a board member of the Marktgilde, which organizes markets in about 125 cities and towns in Germany. For him, Bonn is a showcase location. It has recently gone "low plastic": the plastic bags have been banned, and instead there are alternatives made of paper or cornstarch that are biodegradable. At the same time, Bonn is one of the leading markets. Not necessarily in size, Dresden is way ahead with 160 retailers. "But in Bonn, the market is open from Monday to Saturday, which is something the Marktgilde otherwise only has in Görlitz."

The merchants get “green” electricity from the power outlets, and some even have solar panels on their roofs. "And there is order," Johnson says. When DMG took over the organization about 15 years ago, back when the whole thing was still merchant-led, he says, there was haggling over the best parking spaces. Continuous supply and set-up times were also problematic, he says. "In the meantime, four market managers make sure that everything runs properly. Soon there should be five. The market has developed very well."

New tender is not a criticism of the previous operator, says the city

The city of Bonn agrees. "In the opinion of the administration, DMG Marktgilde has developed the market very well and led it to a good standard," says Andrea Schulte from the press office. The new tender is not a criticism of the previous operator, she said. "It's about possibly getting to see other concepts in order to be able to provide an attractive market offer for the people of Bonn." She added that there was no concrete role model; they were relying on creative ideas from the applicants. "Environmental compatibility, sustainability, an attractive place to be and regionality" are to be the focus. The exact criteria are to be defined by a working group including politicians from the different factions. A result is to be presented in the first council meetings in 2022. The current contract expires in March.

As for the produce sellers, this plan makes them shake their heads. "80 percent of our fruit and vegetables already come from the region," says one. But customers also want to buy bananas and avocados - and they're not available from Germany. "I don't see what we can do better there." And she also sees little room for maneuver when it comes to making it a more attractive place to linger awhile. If the food trucks now set up benches and tables, they would be competing with the established eateries on the market square.

Susanne Steckelbach, who has been selling sausages at the weekly market for many years, can't imagine becoming any more regional. "The farmers won't set up here all week, just because of the costs," she says. She pays around 1,500 euros every month for the space, plus staff and electricity, among other things. Without a delivery truck, she would be lost; after all, she has to transport the goods from the butcher's shop. The greengrocers, some of whom grow their own produce, drive to many farms in the surrounding area and to the wholesale market. The best-attended market days are Fridays and Saturdays, when there is also the largest supply.

Marktgilde definitely wants to bid again

Ingo Johnson takes a relaxed view of having to submit a new tender. "We can understand it, we've been at it for years now. With the new mayor, many city posts have new occupants, which means many things are being reconsidered. We've seen that in other cities." His market guild definitely wants to reapply but he would not talk about their concept so as to not give away any tips to potential competitors.

Orig. text: Nicholas Ottersbach

Translation: ck

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