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Jos van Dessel:

“Getting respect from growers and trade was the biggest satisfaction”

Two years ago, Jos van Dessel said farewell to the fresh produce sector. He worked at the auction site in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium, for 40 years. He will especially remember the arrival of the Flandria label and the various mergers.

Jos literally grew up among vegetables. His parents owned a horticultural company. He decided to also join this branch, and started as inspector at the Mechelse Tuinbouwveiling on 1 May 1975. “I learned much about auctions here, especially in the field of trade. As quality inspector, I was the contact for growers. It was an advantage that I already knew the character and pattern of thought of the growers. The commercial part had also been spoon-fed to me,” he says. After 14 years, Jos started at CVG, which merged with the Mechelse Tuinbouwveiling in 1994, and which continued under the Mechelse Veilingen name. This name was used until the merger with Coöbra. Since December 2012, the new cooperative is operational under the BelOrta name. Jos was appointed Commercial Manager in 1998, a position he held until the end of his career.

In the years he worked at the auction site, he followed quite a trajectory, according to him. “Much has changed, and mostly positively. Especially the different mergers and the arrival of the Flandria label were a deciding factor in that. The introduction and development of the quality label brought much to the entire Belgian horticultural sector. It was the start of a very strong commercial and qualitative policy. Subsequently, other countries also brought a sort of quality label on the market, in the favour of the products and growers.” Jos expects the label will never stop existing. “It has become the basis of Belgian horticulture. Other labels will also be created, such as brand names like ‘BelOrta.’ It’s the same as with computers. Most computers use Intel Inside, but all the brands are different. Flandria still does well on the market.”

Mergers most positive in world of auctions
According to him, the mergers have been just as important. Although it wasn’t always easy to bring about the cooperations, according to him, he still sees the mergers as the most positive in the world of auctions in recent years. “Growers don’t always understand a similar cooperation. To achieve better results, an organisation will first have to profile itself better. Prices will then automatically follow. It’s even better if a merger then succeeds after a long period of talks and negotiations.” He does admit that growers have also changed. “They truly have become entrepreneurs, who try to guide their company as much as possible, and who sometimes dare to take a step towards commerce. I think that actually only succeeds with very special products to successfully and personally market a product. I would unchangingly advice growers to have an organisation take care of the commercialisation of their products.” Jos just missed the most recent intention of a merger with Hoogstraten, and he feels quite sorry about that. He says he’s confident about a fruitful cooperation between the two auctions. 

Jos, who is 62 years old now, says he managed to keep himself entertained quite well in the past two years. “Retired people often say they have even less time than in the past. That might be true, but it’s completely different now. Everything I now schedule, is scheduled because I want it to be, not because it has to be. My wife and I do lots of things, and we enjoy travelling. We also enjoy our children and grandchildren a lot.” However, news from the Dutch and Belgian fresh produce sectors still keep him occupied. He also regularly visits the auction, where he enjoys talking to growers, buyers and former colleagues. “I still have a good bond with Chris in particular. I also think it’s wonderful to see the auction continuing to develop. After 40 years I experienced getting much respect from growers and traders. I have always tried to be the right link between both parties. That was my biggest satisfaction.”

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