The gourmet department at Lufthansa Cargo

How the Fresh/td team looks after culinary delicacies every day

The sliced pineapples and mangoes end up on the chilled cabinets at REWE. The live lobster from Canada is served at leading restaurants across Germany. The green asparagus from Peru is sold at Kaufhof and Karstadt in the winter. Everything is flown by Lufthansa Cargo to Frankfurt and distributed throughout the land after a brief stop at the Perishable Center. The Lufthansa Cargo Perishable team is the freight carrier’s gourmet department.

René Zimpelmann has always had a feeling for good food. While still working in the Munich wholesale market, this food retailer supplied award-winning chefs Eckhart Witzigmann and Dieter Müller with vegetables, fruit and edible flowers. These top chefs have been experimenting with using rose petals, carnations and marigolds as little bonnets over a soup or decoration on a dessert for 30 years now. Nowadays, René Zimpelmann from Dackenheim in Palatine orders up to 20,000 crates with yellow daisy flowers, purple sweet williams and zucchini blossoms each year. Hall K1 at Frankfurt Airport’s fresh centre is simply known internally as the “Zimpelmann Hall”.

Europe’s largest Perishable Center ensures the highest quality of fish, crustaceans and exotic fruit thanks to an unbroken cold chain and the shortest transfer times. Planes usually end up less than 200 metres away from one of the 20 cooling zones, with temperatures of between +24 and -24 degrees. Oliver Blum, Fresh/td team leader at Lufthansa Cargo, and his team ensure that the freighters carrying major quantities of fruit, vegetables and flowers are parked as close as possible to the Perishable Center.

Perishable manager Michael Bordt believes that many flights would not be economically feasible without the perishable goods from Africa and South America. The freighters via Kenya to Johannesburg are jam-packed with machines and parts for the automotive industry there. The return trips would be poor without beans, sugar snap peas and roses. The same applies to the route to the Brazilian industrial metropolis of Manaus. There is hardly enough capacity towards South America, while our jets fly on to Quito (Ecuador) and Bogota (Colombia) on the way home to load up with flowers, fruit and vegetables. It’s the same for many Passage connections. Lobster from Canada and mangoes from Mexico fill the cargo compartments of the passenger jets.

Oliver Blum refuses to accept that airlines cause environmental pollution flying products that nobody needs from far-off countries to Europe. “If there was no demand in Germany for asparagus in the winter, then not a single spear would be flown. If people didn’t want to eat pineapples, mangoes and papayas, then there wouldn’t be this market. We are also supporting sustainable development in emerging economies by buying their products”, explained Blum. In the Perishable Center halls, the pallets demonstrate what the market is looking for at the moment. Mangoes dominate by far, followed by papayas, blueberries and blackberries.

In the fish department, Hüseyin Güclu is sorting a consignment of live lobster freshly arrived from Canada into different destinations. The 155 crates weighing almost two tonnes in total will largely go to the Czech Republic, but also to wholesalers in Germany. Such a delivery comes in three times a week according to Güclu. Around Christmas, there is ten times as much. The Perishable team is also benefitting from all of the cookery programmes on German TV at the moment. When the likeable Vincent Klink gets sizzling on the ARD-Büffet, “Lafer! Lichter! Lecker!” is being broadcast or celebrities such as Alfons Schubeck and Lea Linster wield their wooden spoons on “Küchenschlacht”, there’s an essential rule – only fresh products are used, whether it be July, October or February. No problem for the colleagues from Fresh/td. They are ready all year round to provide cookery stars and ambitious amateur chefs with the freshest products from all over the world.