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Willem Dijk Jr:

“We have a goldmine, but retail traders have to develop their own vision for the future”

In the final link of the supply chain from grower to consumer, an ever-increasing diversity of companies is poaching part of the consumer market. When it comes to seducing consumers to do their daily shopping with them, supermarket, greengrocer’s specialist shop, market trader, farmer’s shop and, increasingly often, online shops, each entrepreneur develops their own strategy to be distinctive from the others. Supermarkets offer the convenience of having everything under one roof. Specialist shops, on the other hand, are dedicated to exclusivity, quality, flavour and service. They are their own boss, and use their own creativity and entrepreneurship. Being distinctive with customer relations cost a lot of time and energy, and it can result in quite a bit of stress. How does the penultimate link, the fresh produce wholesaler’s, respond to this? In the fourth part of this series, Primeur shines a spotlight on this part of the supply chain. Speaking this time is Willem Dijk Jr from Willem Dijk AGF. As a full-service wholesaler’s, Willem Dijk AGF focuses on quality and flavour, and on supporting their customers.

Fresh produce specialists haven’t had it easy in recent years, and developments are coming in quick succession, Willem has noticed. “Retail traders should have a clear vision for the future for the next ten years. In the past, you could use your experience to sell. You just had your range of potatoes, fruit and vegetables, because you knew exactly what people wanted, so that you could anticipate this. Now you have to make clear choices to be distinctive.” He therefore sees the Groenteman met Ster from ADN practically as a necessity for fresh produce entrepreneurs. This project rates greengrocers by awarding them from one up to four stars, based on certain aspects such as service and quality. “It might not be a good feeling to have someone judge your shop, but it would be better for entrepreneurs to let go of that feeling. The project shouldn’t be seen as an inspection, but as an excellent moment to have your shop checked on all aspects so you can find out if you’re ready for the future.” That’s why Willem Dijk AGF sponsors Groenteman met Ster.

Custom advice
Willem Dijk AGF feels very strongly about fresh produce specialists, both those with shops and market vendors, Willem explains. “We try to mean a lot to these people. In the distant past, we mostly worked at a collective level, by organising information evenings and central commercials, for example. We still do that, we recently had an evening about the role of social media, but we have also noticed it’s becoming more and more important to give custom advice and support. After all, each entrepreneur has their own ideas about how they can characterise themselves, and what he needs help with. Moreover, one might be financially strong and willing to expand, while the next might be less strong financially, and needs help with that. We are very strong in the personal aspect. All fresh produce specialists have a permanent contact, and that person is at their disposal all day, as it were.”

Willem Dijk AGF wants to unburden fresh produce specialists as much as possible in whichever field necessary. “They’re just getting more and more tasks. For example, we have an online shop where customers can place their orders 24-7. That’s fun and easy for both the customers and for us, but it’s definitely not gratifying. The personal advice continues to be necessary because the market moves too much. Fresh produce specialists don’t have hours to look through our extensive range to see if the products he wants are available. For example, when we receive large peaches and we know a particular customer can sell them, we contact that specialist that same day.”

Distinctive in quality
Traditionally, the focus of Willem Dijk AGF has been on quality, and that continues to be the case. Willem’s motto is therefore: “Fruit and vegetables aren’t imported, quality is.” Willem explains: “Because we are distinctive in quality and due to our broad assortment, fresh produce specialists can be distinctive from supermarkets. We’re talking about good-sized fruit and the more flavourful products we buy and supply to them. We’ve noticed that if you offer quality, price becomes less important to consumers. For example, when tangerines are difficult, we make sure we have the best and most flavourful tangerines. We are conscious of brands, and buy certain varieties, and we do that partially permanently as well. By offering that bit of distinctiveness, consumers experience and recognise quality, they’re willing to pay for it, and they’ll return for it.”

Willem Dijk AGF is facing the future with confidence. They’ve seen the market starting to recover. “Years ago I said our products are a goldmine. Health is playing an increasingly important role, and as a branch, we can hitch a ride with all of the current media attention to healthy food. We no longer have to prove the value of our products. We just have to market them in the right manner. That’s where the opportunities for specialists can be found. They can perfectly anticipate that by, for example, also taking up an advisory role. They often have to do that anyway, because customers have more and more specialised questions. That will result in more and more interaction, from fresh produce specialists towards us as well. They are aware of what their customers want, and they also have to communicate that to us. We therefore have to keep each other up to date, and we have to learn from each other.”

More information:
Willem Dijk
Willem Dijk jr

Publication date: 9/25/2017


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