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Frits Popma: services in the tropical fruit sector

Sevices, what should they cost?

Somewhere in the Middle East there is a beautiful banana ripening place. Nothing to complain about, except for one small point: the boxes and pallet sizes are different than in Europe. As a result, incorrect air distribution occurs which causes irregular maturation of the bananas. "It would have been a lot cheaper to have used my services before this mistake occurred," says Frits Popma from Popma Fruit Expertise. However, he did admit that estimating the value of services rendered in this sector is often difficult.



"If I were to sell nails I would make an agreement with the buyer regarding the quality, quantity and price. When everything is in order, the agreed upon amount will be paid to the bank account. That is how it has been done for centuries in the trade sector." says Frits Popma from Popma Fruit Expertise. "Some companies get rich and some fail. But how does this work with services rendered. To whom do you render these services?" Since 2001 Popma has provided services to various companies engaged in the production, packaging, transportation, ripening and distribution of tropical fruit worldwide. What is so special about this company that has allowed them to happily operate for 13 years?

He tells us: "The service that you provide is abstract. You provide the customer with a final report, which is tangible, and of course a bill. And that's where it already starts getting tricky, they always think the bill is too high in the beginning. I don't even have to explain what fees and taxes you may be paying for, even if its one cent, before the customer is saying that you are too expensive." Even lowering the price considerably does not work. "Doing that will not make you credible."

So why did he even start a business like this? "For 10 years I happily worked for a huge banana company. I started as a quality inspector and left as the Manager of 'ripening & technical services'. I worked a lot in the tropics in those 10 years and with also with many clients, such as service providers and retail organizations. What struck me was that there was a lot of knowledge present, but that it was specialized in one area and not in the whole chain. Now you can ask yourself if you need that knowledge. More knowledge of the entire chain contributes to fewer losses and prevents disappointments."

"In my case, I got lucky that there is a lot of knowledge surrounding the field of cultivating bananas and other tropical fruits, but after harvesting and packaging the level knowledge and skills is much lower. That has nothing to do with intelligence, rather it has to do with a lack of training and the exchange of knowledge and experience amongst people in the sector. I have visited more than 140 ripening companies and advised them in many different areas. At the end of my visits I don't hear people complaining about the cost anymore, I only hear positive things, such as: 'we should have called you sooner'."

In order to provide the best service possible Popma has worked together under the name I.C.C.C., International Cold chain Competence Center since 2013. The other companies included in this venture are: de Laat Koudetechniek BV, Ammerzoden and Eurazia Connenction (Mr. Willem Kokkee) from Germany. "Each company works independently, but if a project is requested that requires a different type of service then we work together."

"Usually when a company calls me the damage has already been done; they have already invested money in fixing the problem and listened to salesmen who think they know what they are talking about. They regret that decision every day for 15 years. A small example: somewhere in the Middle East there is a beautiful banana ripening place built. Nothing to complain about, except for one small point: it would have been a lot cheaper to have used my services before this mistake occurred, then to try to repair this mistake after the fact."


For more information:
Frits Popma
Popma Fruit Expertise
www.popmafruitexpertise.nl
mob:+31651 188 669



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