When it comes to apples, no-one can keep up with the Krings

Economics & Logistics

Hobbyhorses.

The Krings family business deals in fruits and has remained true to its core business: the cultivation of apples. And the Krings are also loyal when it comes to their vehicles. They only drive vehicles with a three-pointed star on the grille.

Success story. The Krings are loyal to their apples – and they're driving the right course: what started in 1958 with five hectares of land, the family's grandfather Wilhelm and a few apple trees today stretches over 150 hectares of orchards.

When Alexander Krings opens the doors of his coldstores, time stops ticking for a brief moment. The air is a cool one degree Celsuis and blows in your face, before finding its way through your thick jacket and making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. But visitors don't give in to the ice cold temperature, instead letting themselves be tempted to enter the building, beckoned in by the sweet fragrance. And inside the immense hall, you raise your head and there before you are hundreds of wooden crates housing thousands of apples.


On the conveyor belt. Over an area of 40,000 square metres, 80 tonnes of apples move through the company's own plant facility on a daily basis.
On the conveyor belt. Over an area of 40,000 square metres, 80 tonnes of apples move through the company's own plant facility on a daily basis.

Its a hot summer's day in 2018, and there's no sign of the autumn yet. The coldstore in Rheinbach is full to the ceiling. Here, between Bonn, the Siebengebirge Nature Park and the Eifel mountains is the Krings family business headquarters. What started in 1958 with five hectares of land, the family's grandfather Wilhelm and a few apple trees today stretches over 150 hectares and has grown to become a group of companies with four subsidiaries. "Our whole heart is in the cultivation of apples," says Alexander Krings.

"It's the basis of our family's income. And we're active in all aspects of it: harvesting, storage, packaging, and even transporting the goods to our customers." Together with his father Wilfried, the 36-year-old manages the company which has a staff of 150 employees and its own logistics chain. And because the Krings are so good at what they do, they also take on some tasks on behalf of third parties. Suppliers come from the Altes Land area near Hamburg, as well as from Italy and China. They bring citrus fruits, chicory and ginger root. Krings checks the produce in accordance with a strict set of requirements and then proceeds with packaging it – in nets, trays, bags or crates. Large supermarkets in Germany and the Benelux states are the final destination of the wares.


"Our whole heart is in the cultivation of apples."

– Alexander Krings


A family affair. Father Wilfried and son Alexander head up the Krings company based in Rheinbach near Bonn.

Sorting, packaging, cleaning out.

But above all, the Krings family business is apples. And they also dominate the company's own packaging station, which is almost reminiscent of the baggage reclaim at an airport. Only here, it's not cases and bags that pass under the beady eyes of the security staff as they travel along the band. Innumerable quanitites of apples wander through busy hands, which check for bruising, size, colour and shape, before sorting them accordingly. The produce is then packaged immediately. Fruits with minor defects land in a crate marked "Cider". The system can process 80 tonnes per day.

Besides their loyalty to Belle de Boskoop, Elstar and Jonagold apples, the Krings are also true to something else: the three-pointed star. In the fleet, there are only vehicle models from Mercedes-Benz. "Dad has a thing for them. And he wouldn't miss the chance to go and pick up a new truck in person," says Alexander Krings while his father laughs out loud. The latter raises his arms apologetically. "And of course, that does have some clear advantages," he explains. "Our 44 drivers are more than familiar with the vehicles now. Plus, we always have the right replacement parts in stock," explains Wilfried Krings, referring to the company's own workshop.

Here, permanently employed vehicle and farming machinery mechanics make sure that the fleet is always ready for action. "They are all trained for Mercedes-Benz vehicles and handle the regular maintenance of our trucks."


Experts in the three-pointed star. An in-house workshop with permanently employed vehicle mechanics looks after the maintenance of the trucks.
Experts in the three-pointed star. An in-house workshop with permanently employed vehicle mechanics looks after the maintenance of the trucks.

And whilst the trucks are transporting fresh produce around the country, the farming machinery is hard at work in the orchards. This is where the father and son team grew up. Alexander Krings, who always has a pocket knife at hand, reaches out towards a red apple shining so temptingly under the blue skies. He cuts it open, bites heartily into it and smiles like a Cheshire cat. Meanwhile, his father casts a studious glance here and there along the leaves and trees, as if he's looking to prune the wilting blossom of a geranium. You can clearly see the love in the eyes of the pair. Not to mention the respect which they have for that which grows out of the ground.

Krings put their faith in sustainability. In co-operation with NABU, Germany's nature-protection association, the company plants wild flowers in their orchards and allows local bee-keepers to set up their hives there. Between the apple trees, nesting boxes have been installed for the hawks which have returned to Rheinbach.


"The birds keep the voles away," confirms Alexander Krings. What's more, the company is also working on recycling of its packaging. "We're not doing all this because it's the latest trend. This is something which has been one of the most important pillars in the company's philosophy for a long time now."

Father and son continue their walk along the orchard from where a sweet fragrance fills the air. A fragrance which started rising together with the morning's mist and which fills the air right as far as the coldstores in Rheinbach. "We love apples" – and it's brandished boldly in big letters at the top of the company's homepage. And they really do.


Photos: Christoph Papsch

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