Matthijs Ahsman, Frutos Tropicales Europe:
“By focusing on our export range we’re working on a broad customer range”
In March 2017, Matthijs Ahsman and Sam Gielen started FTE (Frutos Tropicales Europe) in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands. By doing so, they fulfilled a long-time wish. “In recent years, we’ve seen a change to more specialised companies on the market, and these work cost-efficiently and focus on just a few products. We also believe in that! This way, we can better serve the final customer, but we can also improve the return to the supplier,” Matthijs says.
“By working with our partner in Peru (a mango and grape producer), we are able to partially supply our range from our own production. Supplemented with avocados, ginger and limes, among other products, we have these products year-round thanks to the import from various origins. Our focus is on the import of tropical fruit, but our current goal isn’t to get a number of small exotics as part of our assortment. We make an exception for specific specialities. For example, we have an import programme for Peruvian blue figs, which makes us distinctive,” the importer says.
FTE might be a new player, but Sam and Matthijs have years of experience. Sam has been active in the fresh produce trade for 15 years, and as the son of former FTK manager Ruud Ahsman, Matthijs was brought up on the import of fruit. The first colleagues have now been hired, and besides Ruud Ahsman, Matthijs’ mentor Otto Reimers is also closely involved in the developments of FTE. “It’s great that we can work with certain growers who were once pioneers during the FTK era, and who have now developed into exporters with renowned brands in the sector.”
“Last year we could only focus on import from Peru, but we now import from various countries in South America, Asia and Africa. Besides mangoes and grapes from Peru, we currently have avocados, limes, ginger, nashi pears and naturally Peruvian figs every week. As of next month, we’ll also start our melon season from Panama. In cooperation with a packer we have the option of packing our products as desired, for example, avocados in netting or two mangoes per punnet,” Matthijs continues.
“With our import,we focus on a broad range of customers of European retailers, service providers and wholesalers. Our goal is to grow autonomously in coming years, and our product focus and cost-efficiency are our most important pillars in that.”
Publication date: 1/29/2018
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