After 20 years of working with with A brand manufacturers (Mars and Nutricia Babe), Ingeborg Kleijer made the decision in 2011 to move to 'brandless' fresh produce. Whereas A brands are all about the consumer and markets, she sees little of this within the fresh produce chain. "There is too much thinking about Field to Fork and too little From Fork to Field," she said suring the past National Fresh Congress.
Convenience in fresh produce solves a lot of problems for consumers. Ingeborg took watermelon as an example. What problems does the consumer have with this? Participants in the room knew a few of them: too heavy, doesn't fit in a fridge, hard to peel/clean. The mini watermelon solves some of those problems. That immediately translated into turnover, which was more than that of regular melons in the first year, she says. But peeling and cutting can still be a problem. Ready to eat melon in a plastic tray solves all the problems at once, but also causes some. The product has less of a storage life and more and more consumers experience plastic packaging as a problem. "You have to have a good look at what problem you're solving," says Ingeborg.
As the marketing manager at Bakker Barendrecht Ingeborg was responsible for the development of fresh packages for Albert Heijn. "The fresh packages help consumers with the daily challenge of "what are we having for dinner". Along with Albert Heijn Bakker made the concept big from 2011 onwards and thanks to this unique chain collaboration it has become a full grown segment, now worth over 33 million Euro in the Dutch market. This success is conditional on the vision and fortitude of Albert Heijn in helping this segment to grow, by supporting it both in the media and on the store floor, for instance through tastings. The taste factor remains crucial to continued success. Consumers won't come back for it and absorb it into their routines unless they think it's tasty."
Fresh packages have taken flight, although the end is not yet in sight, according to Ingeborg. Since her move to Greenyard in March 2017 she's been working as Category Marketing Director, growing the fresh produce category through creating good collaboration with the international retailers in category management. Due to the Dutch success with fresh packages there has also been interest from other European countries, including in Germany and the United Kingdom. "A test at Morrisons went well, but it isn't easy to make it succeed. I notice there is still too much thinking in terms of transactions - buying and selling - which isn't enough. You have to build it together and put it down and know how it works, know the marketing and the format of the formula. As suppliers you have to be able to play into what a formula needs."
Ingeborg sees innovation as the key to allow more people to enjoy fruit and vegetables. You have to be able to play into trends for this. Greenyard has mapped out so called foodwaves and translated them into 12 innovation areas. "Think convenience XL, which stands for ultimate ready to eat concepts; easy planning which includes fresh packages and pick&mix concepts; nomadic eating, eating at any time and any location and food prepping," Ingeborg told the room at the end.