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Drought due to heat wave

An interview from “Ad Hoc” by Carolin Bauer

Berlin - There is extreme drought in some areas of Europe. Manufacturers of tea and herbal medicines could face procurement problems. The harvest is becoming scarcer due to the lack of rain - a problem that is likely to worsen due to climate change. The raw material supplier Klenk, for example, is registering losses, but can still make up for them due to storage. At Wala and Weleda the cisterns are almost empty.

This summer is extreme. The drought is particularly affecting the west, north and eastern Germany. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), in individual areas there was “an extreme drought with reduced yields in agriculture as well as frequent forest and meadow fires”. The manufacturers of medicinal drugs are also affected.

At Klenk in Schwebheim, people are alarmed: “The issue of heat and drought concerns us a lot,” says managing director Stefan Oehler, who is responsible for marketing and sales. The harvest for many items is significantly smaller than in previous years. “It was only in June that we visited mallow fields in Poland, for example, which have now completely dried up.”

If there is a shortage of goods on the open market, prices would immediately rise significantly, says Oehler. The family business with around 100 employees and its own laboratory generates the majority of its sales with medicinal herbs and plant raw materials for industries such as phytopharmaceuticals, extracts and animal feed manufacturers. In addition, around 30 medicinal and food teas are available for your free choice.

Das Unternehmen bezieht seine Produkte bei Vertragsbauern aus der ganzen Welt. „In Deutschland und Osteuropa verzeichneten die Anbauer große Einbußen bei beispielweise Thymian, Melisse, Pfefferminze, Fenchel, Kümmel“, so Oehler. Sorgen müssten sich die Apotheken aber nicht machen: „Durch den weltweiten Einkauf sind wir entsprechend eingedeckt.“ Doch der aktuelle trockene Sommer dürfte kein Einzelfall mehr sein. „In unserer Branche merkt man deutlich den Klimawandel und die Herausforderung dieses Wetters.“

According to Klenk, due to the lack of water in South Africa and the resulting drought period for many months, there was no aloe for almost a year. “Klenk can often compensate for a harvest with scarce goods due to its large warehouse storage and industrial production, as well as global purchasing,” says Oehler. These extreme temperatures posed a major procurement challenge. For example, some oil-containing products could not be stored for several years. You could lose pay and may subsequently become non-compliant.

The anthroposophical manufacturers Weleda and Wala are also affected by the drought. “The heat of the past few weeks has made some of the medicinal plant crops very difficult,” says a Weleda spokesman. The company operates a 23-hectare garden with around 800 plant species in Wetzgau, near the company headquarters in Schwäbisch Gmünd. “However, we were able to counteract this well. We irrigate daily with water from the cisterns in the medicinal plant garden.”

However, due to the lack of rain, the two large water tanks with a total capacity of 2,110 cubic meters and one with 17 cubic meters are no longer sufficient. Due to the extreme heat, the manufacturer recently had to resort to water from the state water supply. The plants in the garden and in the fields are watered daily by hand and using irrigation systems. “Looking back, we have to say that we got off with a black eye in our region compared to other areas in Germany,” said the spokesman.

Wala also has its limits with the rainwater collected in cisterns. “The drought in Germany is of course also affecting the Wala medicinal plant garden,” says a spokeswoman. The manufacturer, based in Bad Boll, has 2.3 hectares of cultivation area with around 150 medicinal plants. It is watered regularly. This ensures the yield and quality of the medicinal plants. “This year we also have to use tap water in some cases.” Due to the ongoing heat and dryness, the harvest dates have been pushed forward by two to three weeks.

The heat is causing sales records for pharmacies this year. Because nature literally exploded in the spring, the allergy season was particularly strong. According to Insight Health, around 1.5 million packs worth 12 million euros (pharmacy sales prices, AVP) were sold in pharmacies in calendar week 16 at the beginning of April. At the same time, demand for sun protection skyrocketed. Five times the previous year's value was sold in packs.


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