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Jan Hanssens, Head Agronomist at Ardo

"Everything depends on rain in the coming period"

It is going to be a difficult season for Ardo, one of the largest vegetable processing companies in Europe. "2017 is one of the worst years. Everything depends on the rain in the coming weeks", says Jan Hanssens, Head Agronomist at Ardo. "We can live with a harvest of -5 to -20 percent, but it becomes unacceptable when it falls to -30 percent." Last year Ardo was harvesting at up to a loss of -25%. Beans also fell to 20% less production. There will now also be half, or even less, as many peas. A decrease of 40 - 50% in cauliflower is also expected. Ardo has a stable pricing policy, so missed crops have a big influence on their profit margins.

Ardo in Ardooie, Belgium and Head Agronomist, Jan Hanssens


In order to achieve stable prices, 85 to 90 percent of purchases are pre-contracted. Jan Hanssens says: "Although it is possible to speculate with a number of types of vegetables, such as carrots, leeks, celery and onions, we are not going to do that. It would not do our relationship with our growers any good, especially now. I have never received so many calls and e-mails offering free carrots."

Frozen products Market
The market for frozen products is, according to Ardo, stable in Europe. This market is growing slowly worldwide. This is, in part, due to favourable transportation routes to and from South America. "The route from Antwerp, through Rotterdam to Brazil is cheaper than the Antwerp-Rotterdam-Madrid route. However, selling is one thing; satisfied clients and markets is entirely something else."

Frozen vs fresh
Adro wants to move away from the word "deep frozen" and rather talks of "freshly frozen". According to Ardo, there are as many vitamins and minerals in their products as in fresh products. This is proven in a scientific study about the vitamin C content in beans. When these were frozen shortly after being harvested, the vitamin C content remained higher than fresh beans, sold after three days in the supermarket.

Ardo emphasises other advantages such as: There is a 100 % volume guarantee, longer shelf life (18 to 30 months) and it is more convenient (the vegetables have been cleaned, washed and are pre-cut, so ready for use). Ardo also points out that the prices of their products are stable and the consumer only pays for usable product. The amount of unusable parts of some products is quite high, 3,8 kg/10 kg for cauliflower, 4,9 kg for cabbage and 4,2 kg for leeks.

Ardo product policy focuses on diversity. New products and mixes are continually being developed by a team of culinary advisers. These advisers are in contact with consumers and keep up with the latest trends. The Ardo Gamma range consists of freshly frozen vegetables, mixed vegetables, prepared vegetables, herbs, fruit, pasta and rice. The range is subdivided into nine product groups, each with its own added value and possible uses in the kitchen. These include the pre-cooked Express range, the organic Bi-products and others, ranging from loose products to fruit and vegetable purees that are suitable for smoothies. There is also Ardo Culinair, an online recipe book based on Ardo products. Here, Ardo follows the trend of less carbohydrates, and vegetarian dishes, Recipes include rainbow pizza using a cauliflower base, and sweet potato chips.

Rainbow pizza, smoothies and sweet potato chips

It is a quiet time in the plant at this time of year. Only one of the four production lines is being used to make cauliflower rice for the American market. America is one of the 60 countries that Ardo supplies with products. More than 3,800 people work at Ardo and they have a turnover of more than EUR 840 million based on a production volume of 762,000 tonnes. Products are processed at 21 locations in the most productive farming areas of nine European countries. They are focused on three markets: retail, food service and the food industry.

Ardo in Ardooie, Belgium

Ardo is becoming a sustainable business. Ardo is investing in its plants to make them more efficient, to lessen water and energy use, and to decrease their carbon footprint. For example, all their vegetable waste gets converted to green energy. In this way, they can generate up to 50% of their energy requirements at their Ardooie site in Belgium. This eco-friendly way of thinking is anchored in a policy and yearly report in a Corporate Social Responsibility Report (in lieu of an Annual Report).

Ardo Ardooie
Wezestraat 61
8850 Ardooie
T: +32(0)51 310621

Publication date: 7/6/2017


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