TRADE AND MARKE T ING Export company must be flexible degrees, and are then transported at those same temperatures to the local markets. No contracts for export “Export trade is day trade” continues Rijk. “That’s why we can’t conclude contracts. This applies both to our suppliers and our growers. Many growers would like a bit of certainty though. That is the awkward position we are always in as potato exporters. Fortunately, here in the southwest of the country and near the Belgian border, many growers still like the challenge of growing non-protected crops, and a challenge is still there for the better grower. Although we have not lost a market share in terms of volume, we will still have to work hard to improve the quality of the export potatoes. Far-away countries now also demand quality. I feel that we can meet that demand by selling better varieties, for example, and also by improved cultivation methods. When you see that the seed potato crops produce much whiter potatoes simply because haulm destruction is started earlier, this improvement must also be possible for the consumption potatoes destined for export. It is with these potatoes that we can win the market and achieve higher prices in the long run. That’s why we are looking for growers that grow potatoes in a type of soil that produces potatoes with the best external quality. We can make arrangements with such growers about guaranteed purchase and let them share in our trade successes on the export market. Moreover, we can combine export with contract cultivation for the processing industry, if the possibilities are available. That underlines the usefulness of the ware sector. We can also move lots around, for example, those that are left over or in short supply. Good in large quantities “The export trade is continuously navigating between differences in supply and destinations. We, of course, are trying to get an idea of what the markets are doing in the various countries long beforehand. We call our customers regularly to find “Far-away countries now also demand quality.” out what they need and what market prices are. Those telephone calls are important, because they tell us whether interest is growing or waning. And we always have small lots available that can be delivered straightaway. The hardest is to market varieties that only have one specific destination. That’s why we are glad that most of our export is still based on Bintje. That variety has a multiple suitability and is doing well in many markets. Varieties such as Maritiema, Berber and Frieslander, which we also sell, are much more difficult to market if the demand is low, because these markets are much smaller. If you want to rank us in the Dutch export trade, then I would describe our company as a flexible exporter that is good at large quantities. Ten lorries with packaged potatoes for a single order to the port of Flushing, for example, that’s not very difficult for us. If necessary, we can unload seven trailers in the arrival hall. During busy periods, we work with two shifts, and package 400 tonnes a day with a maximum of 2,000 tonnes a week. We package anything from 10 kg bags to big bags, but most of the lots are packaged in net bags or jute sacks of 20 or 25 kg. Packaging in full swing During a walkaround the premises, Rijk shows the rapid handling of export potatoes. In the arrival hall, the trailers conveyor belts are working at full speed. A robot takes samples from each load that are then inspected on tare and quality characteristics. A buffer is also needed for capacity work and that’s why there are stores at several locations to temporarily store differ20 Potatoworld 2006 Pagina 19

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