"From 40 000 to 4 million litres of fruit juice per year"

Flevosap sees opportunities in China

The brothers are bursting with pride. Roel and Wyno Vermeulen of Flevosap in Biddingshuizen, the Netherlands got their own bottling plant this year. “It was a substantial investment of more than EUR 3 million. With this production line, we can fill more than 6 000 bottled an hour. This amounts to 7 million bottles per year, and then the line is not even working at full capacity.”

Larger volume
Flevosap has been available for years at higher-end supermarket chains. Until this year, they did not, however, have the opportunity to bottle their juices themselves. The Vermeulen brothers have been making fresh juices since 1992 under the name, Flevosap. They used to bring it to bottling plants, with whom they had agreements, in a tanker truck on a weekly basis. Roel says, “The bottling plants, of course, had their own schedules which did not always fit into ours.” When they started in 1992, the aim was to bottle 40 000 litres per year. Presently this figure stands at 4 million litres per year. “The volume, eventually, became too large and we started thinking about a self-owned bottling plant. There is a huge amount of transport and cost involved in transporting 4 million litres of fruit juice to be bottled and then distributing that in bottles”, says Roel. The final decision was made at the beginning of 2016 and construction was started on the new production warehouse and, later, the production plant. In May 2017, the brand’s first bottled rolled off the line. Volumes gradually increased from there. They have been bottling their own product since September this year.

China is an emerging market
There is now a modern production line. On one end, empty bottles are placed from a pallet onto a conveyor belt. These emerge, filled, sealed, labelled and packaged six-to-a-pack at the other end and are automatically stacked on a pallet. “This self-bottling has opened new doors for the company’s expansion. China is an emerging market. We have recently also launched our brand in England.” Flevoland is aiming for a growth of 10 to 15% per year. “This estimate is achievable, now that we are running the show. We are not even running at full capacity yet.”

Own label
With more than 250 different kinds of labels, including private labels, the company bottles juices for various retailers in different countries. Flevosap is sold at higher-end supermarkets. “ 's Landsbeste” is an exclusive brand for specialists shops and farm shops. “Appley Goodness” is the brand they are using in the British market. There are also private labels for, among others, brands like Van der Valk, Deen and Jan Linders. "This bottling plants enables us to press juices for other growers and bottle it in a bottle with their own label. In week 46, Flevosap was a “bonus” product at the Dutch supermarket chain, Albert Heijn costing EUR 0,99." Roel says with pride, "The estimate we got from Albert Heijn was 60 000 litres. A week before the bonus promotion, we got an order for much more and, in the end, 200 000 litres were sold. Thanks to our bottling plant, we were able to respond instantly and produce extra. This would not have worked before.”

No problems
It has been predicted that, by May, there would probably be no more apples. Roelf is not concerned about this, “Sales are a lot lower, there may even be too many apples. Due to the high apple prices, we have also had to increase our prices. We use nine apples for 1 litre of juice. This equates to 1,5 kg. Last year, prices were between EUR 0,10 and EUR 0,15 per kg. This year they are between EUR 0,25 and EUR 0,30 per kg. This means prices have doubled.”

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