Bourbon vanilla and pepper that makes five men
You can really spend a lot of time in front of the bags of pepper alone. You can buy green, red and black pepper in any supermarket. But what about Andaliman pepper, Kubeben pepper, Pepe Cioccolato or Tsiperifery pepper? Right next to them are several wicker baskets with other fiery spices. Blends such as baharat, tajine and ras el hanout are filled in small bottles. Even smaller ones contain chipotle jalapeno or habanero chilli.
"We say about habanero: it can take five men - that's how hot it is," says Lalasoa Ruckdeschel and laughs. The 60-year-old comes from Madagascar, but has lived in Germany for a good 20 years and is married to a Bavarian, as you can tell from her name. Together with her husband Andreas, she runs MadaSpice from Munich: they sell spices online, at trade fairs and at markets, which they buy personally from farmers in Madagascar.
Surviving despite natural disasters
"By avoiding many intermediate steps in the trade, we can offer the best goods at favourable prices in Germany and still leave more income for the producers," says Lalasoa Ruckdeschel. Because that is a major concern for her: Giving people in Madagascar a livelihood. "We have already built two schools," she says, "although it is often difficult for people to bring their children to school even though they have nothing to eat. People in Madagascar are struggling to survive, and farmers are battling cyclones and floods."
Ruckdeschel, who studied International Marketing and Politics at the Business Academy in Kiel, does not think much of well-intentioned donations and many aid campaigns. She can even get really angry about tourists who arrive with old clothes in their suitcases and take expensive vanilla in exchange. It is important that people can build something for themselves. "We give local people the chance to develop and help them to earn a living."
Tonka beans and woven bags
MadaSpice works with around 500 farmers throughout Madagascar to achieve this, says Ruckdeschel. She flies to her home country two to three times a year to buy products, check the quality and initiate the cultivation of new products. "At the beginning in 2004, we only had vanilla, pepper and cinnamon on offer," she reports. Customers often provided the impetus to expand the portfolio. "Then I was asked: Do you have green Kari pepper? And we first had to find out: how do you grow it?".
But the Ruckdeschels themselves also keep their antennae open for trends. The range now extends from classic Bourbon vanilla to mace (mace) and salt blends to tonka beans, tea, chocolate balls and Madegasque cocoa, often with cinnamon-orange or noisette. And because spices can only be harvested once a year and farmers should have a regular income, MadaSpice also sells colourful woven bags - handmade from raffia palm fibres.
In Hall 10.2, there are even more products from Africa - wooden figurines and coffee from Kenya, for example, incense, myrrh, mortars and olive wood boards from Tunisia and award-winning wines from Excelsior Wine Estate in South Africa.