In recent years, Eriks Groenveld experienced a considerable growth. “We were a horticultural company, but we’re now a production company as well,” Sander Eriks describes the company he has managed with his wife Rosita since 2015.
One of the first steps they took three years ago, was putting the company on the map. “Research showed we weren’t all that easy to find. The nomenclature wasn’t unequivocal because activities within the company were registered under different names. Our first step was therefore to bring them all under Eriks Groenveld,” Rosita says. “We also wanted clarity in our design and communication. We had a website and logo created, and then we started approaching the media.” The company became easier to find thanks to this clarity, so they decided to go full speed ahead. “Once we could be found, new buyers approached us, we doubled production within a year,” Sander adds.
Each customer has specific requirements
This growth continued in the following years. “It’s not easy to lump together our customers. They are national and international traders, vegetable processors, companies in the juice industry, catering companies, large and small and throughout the country. Many of them have been our customers for years, mutual trust is enormous,” Sander says.
All these buyers also each have their specific requirements, particularly on the production side of things, where quite a few certificates can now be found. To acquire these, Eriks Groenveld also went full speed ahead. “Our first new customer wanted to buy once we met FSSC 22000. This trajectory, which normally takes three years, we completed in three months,” Rosita says. “We’re now also GlobalGAP, Skal and Eko certified.” The certification trajectory isn’t finished yet, because buyers on the production side of things also have their requirements. Considering the broad clientele, this means Eriks Groenveld has to choose between PlanetProof and Natuur en Milieu, and they haven’t quite made up their minds yet.
As processing company, however, food safety is one of the most important conditions, and you have to continue to improve yourself regarding this, according to Sander and Rosita. The next step is therefore to bring both processing lines into a high-care environment. The advantage of this is space will become available for a canteen/changing room, because Eriks Groenveld is bursting at the seams.
Specialisation makes us distinctive
Eriks Groenveld is specialised as a traditionally mixed company with cows and all sorts of crops, including cabbage, carrot, potato, onion, kale and celeriac at the insistence of one of the largest buyers in the production and processing of carrot and beetroot. “It was a smart step, because by exclusively focusing on winter carrot and beetroot, we could also focus more on special carrot and beetroot varieties, exclusive varieties and the extensive processing of these crops.”
Eriks Groenveld’s production process is adjusted to these products. The most important product they supply is orange carrot. “We prepare the products to the customers’ wishes; we cut off the tops and tips of the carrot and then cut them into chunks of 6, 9 or 12 centimetres. We can also supply peeled products. We pack to size, in boxes, crates, barrels or nets, per 5, 10 or 20 kilos, or in big bags of 1,000 kilos.” The machines can process both carrot and beetroot. Most demand is for orange carrot, and to a lesser extent also for yellow and purple carrot.
“Demand for purple carrot is difficult to meet. That carrot is so firm it’s difficult to peel, which therefore costs a lot of time. There’s also demand for peeled beetroot, which is also difficult, because the beetroot juice causes stains, meaning the machines have to be cleaned extra thoroughly. Peeling organic carrots is an option. We do that at the start of the day when the lines are still completely clean. It’s easy to keep conventional and organic carrot separated.”
Eriks Groenveld produces on 70 hectares in total, and 20 of these hectares are from contract growers. Besides orange carrot, they also grow yellow, purple and white carrot, chioggia, yellow and red beetroot and parsnip. “We invested in the production of coloured carrot for 15 years, and that was profitable as long as it was an exclusive product. However, so many companies now supply these carrots they’ve become much cheaper on the market. That’s why we’ll be expanding with beetroot, which is mostly interesting for catering. In recent years, more suppliers became active with this crop as well. We therefore have to continue developing ourselves.”
Eriks Groenveld can supply carrot and beetroot year-round. “We have special storerooms for our storage carrot, and these are CO2 cooled, which means they’re environmentally friendly and sustainable. The same is true for our red beetroot. The residual heat from the cooling is used to heat the floors. Our loading docks also have underfloor heating, which is especially appreciated in winter.”
This season’s harvest is in full swing. Because of the dry weather, Eriks Groenveld expects a lower than average production. “But I’d rather have a dry than a wet year. We fortunately managed to keep growth up by irrigating. Last year, when it was wet, we lost a large part of our harvest,” Sander concludes.