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“Legumes no competition for fresh vegetables”
Brand names are becoming more and more important on the market for tinned foods, beans and legumes. Looking at the market shares, the share of private labels is decreasing. Compared to this, HAK has seen its market share rising. The vegetable producer sees a lot of potential in the market for beans and legumes, and feels supported in that by international organisations such as the UN.
Arnoud van Os, manager of Peter van Halder and Timo Hoogenboom, CEO of HAK.
“We want to help consumers to eat more vegetables,” says Timo Hoogenboom, CEO of HAK. Practically no one manages to eat the daily recommended amount of 250 grammes of vegetables in the Netherlands. Far fewer consumers, not even 20 per cent, manages to eat the daily recommended amount of legumes. Compared to other countries, the Dutch, Belgians and Germans eat very few legumes. Timo thinks this might have something to do with the past, when legumes were seen as food for the poorer section of the population. Meat was a sign of prosperity.
Pasta with mixed beans
That largest part of HAK’s turnover, about 95 per cent, is still on account of the tinned foods market. Most consumers who regularly buy the well-known glass jars from HAK, are the more traditional consumers who are familiar with the principle of preserved food. That group regularly buys preserved vegetables. For an increasingly larger group of more modern consumers, the consumption pattern is such that tinned foods are playing a smaller part. More meals are ordered, more cold dishes are eaten and there’s more focus on a fresh perception. To appeal to that target audience even more, beans in an upright bag were introduced.
Timo talks about an exponential growth in legumes of more than 20 per cent per year. However, it’s not easy to increase consumption. Most consumers have a fixed consumption pattern with dishes consisting of soup, rice, pasta or potatoes. “Those meals aren’t easy to change,” Timo knows. That’s why HAK chose its own approach. “The number of flexitarians (semi-vegetarians) is increasing, and we want to respond to that.” The mixed beans for pasta, in which the minced meat has been replaced with lentils, is one example of this.
Steeping and cooking
“There’s more attention for the consumption of vegetables,” Arnoud van Os, manager of Peter van Halder, adds. The company was taken over by HAK earlier this year. He indicates two factors that drive this trend: the positive effect on sustainability and health. “Consumption patterns are changing. More is consumed throughout the day, and vegetables and legumes are an additional component in that.”
With the acquisition, HAK wants to focus more on cooled products, Peter van Halder’s domestic market. Additionally, the company wants to offer products with an added value. Beans and legumes play a main part in that. “Legumes do not compete with fresh products,” Timo says. For consumers, the time-consuming preparation process is a threshold. “Legumes have to be steeped and then cooked. The HAK family started doing so 65 years ago, and therefore has a lot of experience.”
Market share brands increasing
In the beans and tinned foods category, the market share of private labels is decreasing. While these private labels used to be lord and master on the market, the market share of brands has been increasing in recent years. Not just HAK sees its market share increasing, by now the company is a market leader and with a larger share than private labels, Bonduelle is also gaining publicity for this. “Consumers are prepared to pay for a brand. It’s more than just an economic factor,” Timo says.
Within the cooled segment, HAK wants to introduce products that are an addition to the existing assortment. That’s interesting for retailers because the brand name HAK and the marketing budgets don’t just draw attention to the products of the Dutch company, but also to the cooled segment as a whole. “HAK supplies to all full service supermarkets, and not to hard discounters. Many introductions of new products happen in the fresh segment.”
But HAK looks beyond traditional retail. Paying attention to the increasing number of eating moments and blurring, filling stations and airlines, for example, are now also being mentioned as sales channels. Besides, through Peter van Halder’s network, HAK gains access to food service and catering, a market on which the vegetable cutting plant is traditionally very successful. Both companies focus on markets in the Benelux and Germany. “HAK is 100 per cent a brand company, with HAK as its largest brand. We add Peter van Halder to the brand umbrella,” Timo says.
Bean burger and chickpeas
Peter van Halder was founded in 1985, and emerged from greengrocer’s specialist shops that became more focused on processing products for professional kitchens. Besides the sliced vegetables, the company also delivers meals to health care institutions. “We actually stopped at professional chefs and didn’t reach consumers,” Arnoud says. “Under HAK we can reach those consumers.”
A first step away from the tinned food shelves was made when HAK introduced the bean burgers and sausages that were presented in 500 branches of Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo. These products count as meat replacers, but it was consciously decided not to market them as such. “The burgers and sausages look more artisanal than meat replacers, and you can see the beans in the product,” Timo explains. Although the product has not been widely marketed yet, it is doing well. These products with a shorter shelf life are a change for HAK, production-technically. “It is a completely different discipline,” Timo says. Thanks to the long shelf life of tinned products, the company produces seasonally. Summer vegetables are processed in summer, winter vegetables during the winter months. For cooled products, however, this process has to be completely changed, and Peter van Halder is the solution to that. The products that arrive at the company in Den Bosch in the morning, are processed and supplied that same day.
Another product of which consumption is quickly increasing, is chickpea, which can be found in various meals. “We also introduce new beans on the market,” Timo continues. Besides chickpea, black turtle beans are an example of this. With a bean barometer, which will be introduced later this year, HAK will map the consumption of beans. “Kidney beans and white beans in tomato sauce are still the legumes consumed most often,” Timo knows. These two beans also show the philosophy with which HAK buys its products: locally as much as possible. The province of Zeeland supplies the kidney beans, for the white beans, the buyers travel to North America. HAK consciously chose producers in North America for the quality, which tends to be better than, for example, that of African beans, according to the company.
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