Despite regular thefts Farmers continue to offer farm products in vending machines

Rhein-Sieg-Kreis · Milk filling stations and self-service farm shops open around the clock are in vogue. For farmers, self-marketing of their regional products on site offers a great opportunity. However, 24-hour sales are not without risk

 Margret Biewald enjoys stopping by the milk filling station in Sankt Augustin after work. Photo: Christine Siefer

Margret Biewald enjoys stopping by the milk filling station in Sankt Augustin after work. Photo: Christine Siefer

Foto: Christine Siefer

"If I didn't have the milk filling station, I would have stopped producing milk already," says farmer Bruno Stauf from Neunkirchen-Seelscheid. The regular price per litre barely covers the production costs and has hardly changed in 30 years. In 2010, Stauf was one of the first to offer his fresh milk at a milk filling station for self-dispensing. In the meantime, he is in good company: in addition to traditional farm sales, more and more farmers in the Rhein-Sieg district have set up self-service machines, which can often be used 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

In the Corona pandemic, some local residents have discovered these offers for themselves, reports farmer Andreas Becker from Niederkassel-Uckendorf. He has four vending machines on his farm. An app informs the 37-year-old about every purchase of his goods, including dairy products, homemade cold-pressed oils, eggs, honey and various meat products from male chicks, so-called Bruderhahn products. "Especially on Sundays and very early and late in the day, when shift workers come home from work, the app shows me sales," Becker reports, adding that police officers are also among his customers. The farmer does not mention this without reason - the concern about break-ins is high among the vendors. Almost everyone has already had experience with thefts. This is also confirmed by the district police when asked. Last year, they recorded seven thefts from milk vending machines and mobile farm stands with self-service.

Frequent thefts

The milk vending machine of the Ramminger family in Eitorf-Köttingen was already broken into three times last year. "The vending machine is near the children's bedroom window," says family father Mathias Ramminger, "our little daughters were afraid to go to sleep there at first after the offences." If something like that happened again, he would dismantle the vending machine - it was not worth it to him. Almost all providers now have video surveillance because of such incidents. This is also the case with the Höck family in Lohmar. Since 2017, buyers have been able to tap fresh milk at their milk filling station. Anyone who wants to meet the dairy cows in person should get in touch, the family advertises on its homepage.

At farmer Christian Becker's Haus Attenbach in Hennef-Stein, there are around 340 cows that give milk for 24-hour sales, among other things. In addition to milk and eggs, the Becker family also offers ice cream together with ice cream parlour owner Omar Tormen. And next to the wooden hut is the mobile sales stand of the Strack farm shop from Hennef-Uckerath with its own products such as jam, game goulash, noodles or vegetables. Food and money have already been stolen from there several times. Doris Becker still wants to maintain the offer: "We invested a lot of money in setting it up and it's fun," she explains. "Not offering it because of that is not an option."

Cocoa with fresh milk

Farmer Peter Wilhelm Ellingen from Uckerath is in agreement. At his farm, there is a fridge with free-range eggs, potatoes or pasta; soup chickens and beef are available on pre-order. Payment at the fridge is based on trust. "It works well on the whole, people are honest," says the 57-year-old. "You have to live with the negative and annoying side effects." He has adjusted to this, he says: He empties the cash register in the evening so that there is nothing to steal at night.

At the stall of Hof Scheja in Sankt Augustin-Menden you can buy curd cheese, yoghurt, eggs from their own chickens or noodles. Once a month, the Scheja family offers freshly slaughtered pork and beef. In contrast to most other offers, pasteurised milk can also be bought in this 24-hour vending machine. This suits Lea Hundenborn and her two children: "When we go for a walk here, we often get a cocoa," says the local 21-year-old. The vending machine spits out a 0.5-litre bottle of cocoa powder, which can then be refilled with the pasteurised milk. "But I also often see adults who shop here and then treat themselves to a cocoa on their way back to the car," reports owner Annika Hache.

For farmer Bruno Stauf from Neunkirchen-Seelscheid, self-marketing also offered an opportunity to convert his farm. He has fewer cows than before and has been breeding a more robust breed that gives so-called primal milk for years.  "The high-performance dairy cow can hardly stand three days of rainy weather on the pasture," Stauf explains, referring to overbreeding.  His cows are fed exclusively grass instead of maize or soya. "That also does something to the milk, it is considered more digestible," says the farmer. In a few weeks' time, the first raw milk will be available in the vending machine in the Pohlhausen district.

Original text: Christine Siefer. Translation: Mareike Graepel

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