TRADE AND MARKE T ING Export company must be flexible ent lots and varieties separately. A large double riddle grading unit ensures that work can go on. When the export potatoes have been graded for a second time, they are moved to the packaging department. This has been divided into lines for packaging in jute and plastic net bags. The bags are rolled to the automatic palleting machines at high speed. As soon as the pallets are ready for transport, the forklift truck driver puts them in the waiting room. To inform the workers in the ports that these bags contain Dutch potatoes, the driver slides a distinct sticker between the plastic pallet wrapping. After transport to the port of Flushing, the potatoes are usually put into temporary storage to wait for a boat before they can cross the deep blue sea. Constant communication That the flow of potatoes is so efficient is mainly due to the constant communication between all the links of the logistic line. There is almost continuous telephone contact in and out the office. Rijk puts the ability to work with such flexibility down to the fact that Verhagen BV is not too big a company, which makes it easier to oversee. “The lines are short. There is direct contact between buyer and grower, and there is good communication with the sales department. Furthermore, we “The export trade is continuously navigating between differences in supply and destinations. have been doing business with many countries for many years and, more importantly, we know all the phytosanitary requirements. Take tare, for example. Some countries have no requirements at all as regards soil, others want potatoes that are ‘practically free of soil’ and yet others want their potatoes ‘completely free of soil’ or washed. We can satisfy all these requirements without any problem. That’s why it is such a pity that the Netherlands has an expensive organisation such as the Plant Protection Service, which wants to inspect all this for a second time. We don’t mind inspections, but, compared with a country like Belgium, it costs ten times as much, I think that’s quite a disadvantage competion-wise. Fortunately, there is now a pilot scheme whereby exporters themselves carry out the statutory inspections and the Plant Protection Service only carries out spot checks.” Poland in nobody’s way yet “If you want to know how the export trade has developed in recent decades, I would have to say that we export potatoes much further afield than before. At the moment, we are packaging a great deal of potatoes for eastern Europe and Russia and, for this year at least, there are signs that a reasonable amount will go that way. What we are seeing is that exports to these regions decrease every year as a result of increasing production there. Poland is in nobody’s way yet, but I foresee that this country will itself start exporting in a few years. It goes without saying that Polish potatoes will go to the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, and then we will certainly have another competitor around. What is reasonably stable for us is the trade to west Africa where we are firmly settled. Further, potatoes still go via direct trading lines to various countries in the EU, Israel and the Antilles; this runs via bureau exporters. Provided that we can go on improving our quality, I foresee good export opportunities for the coming years”, ends Rijk, before answering yet another phone call. ● Leo Hanse Potatoworld 2006 21 Pagina 20

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