"It's been a few years since I came into contact with Freeland," says innovation advisor Joke Feestra of Syntens Innovation Centre. "Kees van den Bosch was busy focussing on the possibilities for making his company more sustainable at the time. When you look at the amount of packaging material that is used by a vegetable trading company, it's no wonder he was looking into the role of packaging."
Extending shelf life
Van den Bosch was also looking for opportunities to reduce the transport costs and increase the shelf life of the product. "A substantial amount of the purchasing price is formed by the transport costs, as a lot of it is transported by air. Many of our customers are quite far away," explains Van den Bosch. "Supermarkets also usually have to dispose of around 20 percent of the vegetables as it is no longer fresh enough."
Advisor Feenstra brought the existence of Peakfresh, a revolutionary packaging from Australia, to Van Den Bosch's attention. "It just so happens that Kees was already in contact with the importer. We were both on the same track." The core of Peakfresh's power is the added minerals in the plastic packaging. "To put it simply, these minerals adapt to the product inside the packaging," says Van den Bosch. "The result is that the shelf life of the vegetables doubles at the very least." This even leads to a shelf life of 42 days for ice berg lettuce.
Scientific back up
To convince his customers of the potential of the Peakfresh packaging, the businessman sought scientific backing for his sales story. Feenstra advised the founder of Freshland to have the producer's shelf life claim tested in Holland. She introduced Van den Bosch to the Hogeschool Van Hall Larenstein in Leeuwarden. The Hogeschool's research confirmed the Australian findings.
Greenland and the Middle East
Van den Bosch has been working with Feenstra on elaboration of the market positioning for the new packaging. Although the research already done has objective evidence, the businessman from Emmen still notices that the Peakfresh packaging needs time to proof itself. "It does seem too goo to be true." A number of Freeland's buyers have already chosen the Peakfresh packaging. "These customers are in Greenland and the Middle East." Besides bags for individual crops, Freeland also works with 5 and 10 kilo bags, as well as pallet covers.
Immersion in sustainability
To further immerse himself in the possibilities of sustainability, Van den Bosch participated in a trade mission organised by Syntens to Biofach, an international fair for organic foods in Germany. "Kees also came to India with us, during a trendtour we organised there. Sustainability was also central in this inspirational tour." Van den Bosch: "The visit to the Biofach gained me a supplier and various interesting contacts in the organic world. The trendtour in India was very inspiring. It gave me an educational view of the work and has inspired me to continue making our company more sustainable."