TRADE AND MARKET I NG “By working together more, we can take important steps forward” of price options for their crops. This is important, because we see that growers are being increasingly burdened by their business operations. For some growers, selling their own potatoes works out well. But when you look at the direction in which Dutch potato cultivation is heading, being on the ball in cultivation and storage is particularly important, which leaves many growers little time for trading. I also think that pooling sales is ultimately the best option for most growers. This is a tried and tested commercial principle. Because we take over the entire potato flow from the grower and look for the best sales in every aspect of the market, I think we have a very strong combination. We divide parts of the different volumes into market segments ourselves, which enables us to sell optimally in the various markets. That’s why we’re looking for sales in a broad market! We do this not only to spread the risk, but also because the various markets complement each other perfectly. In the export market, customers ask for different varieties than in retail. And in retail it’s not the same as in the food service or in French fry segments. In markets such as ‘I can say, though, that we’re still reinventing ourselves.’ French fries and export, where every penny counts, the optimisation of raw material flows is extremely important. Margins are shrinking and companies are becoming more and more alert to smaller profit differences. By optimising our internal processes, we’ll be able to focus more sharply on this, which is new in our organisation. The question, for example, is how can we optimise the flow of potatoes intelligently through automation. When products are different, we need to find a separate market for them. Because we serve all markets, we benefit from the raw material flow and only then can you market potato flows optimally’. Does the trading of bulk potato flows still fit your vision of thinking from a marketing opportunities perspective? ‘We are indeed a bulk supplier for the French-fry industry. By bundling potatoes, we add value for our affiliated growers, but this also applies to our customers. What we want to achieve is to provide an even better service to the major customers. This means that we’ll transfer information about parties more quickly and respond more alertly to market demands. We also need to match the quality even better to the need. We’re working on strengthening our market position in this segment further. This is a challenge, because you see that the French-fry industry is increasingly approaching the growers themselves and that growers are choosing to do business with them directly. However, as a grower, you’re then unilaterally very dependent on the French-fry industry and you won’t be able to benefit from our joint support and negotiating power. Actually, we’d like to add a nought to the turnover, because we should This summer, we’ll be installing a new packaging line costing over half a million euros for our export programme’, says Carel van Buchem. grow along with the growth of the industry. If we don’t grow, we’ll become less important or even end up at the bottom of the list. And that‘s what you don’t want. So we’re also looking for cooperation in this sub-market. Starting up one’s own processing industry seems a bit ambitious, but the market for fresh traditionally-made French fries, for example, is a submarket that’s developing rapidly and where opportunities may arise. We’re not ruling out anything at the moment.’ Are there already concrete plans? ‘It’s too early to say anything specific about this. I can say, though, that we’re still reinventing ourselves. We’re going to develop new potato products. These could be freshly packaged potatoes or something similar. Take, for example, the AH fresh packages. How should we tap into that? How can we handle it in a better way? Last Christmas, we launched a recipe with special packaging for a unique three-coloured potato cake. This product idea has been well received, but we can improve the production line even further. This way of working fits in with our aim of bringing the margins in the chain to our growers. Our largest customer, Albert Heijn, also offers us opportunities for developing our product range. We’ve picked a much nicer ‘We want to expand in every aspect of the sales market.’ packaging for the new small-standard packaging machine, which means the potatoes are much better presented with the attractive shine of the material. Moreover, we’re a financiallystrong company with a Supervisory Board that’s prepared to invest and is open to cooperation. These are all things that give us, as an organisation, a solid foundation for the future.’ ● Jaap Delleman Potato World 2020 • number 2 7 Pagina 6

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