Henk van Berkel and Philippe Berchoux know the world of fresh fruit and vegetable transport like no other. They picked up this experience after decades in the industry. Their employer at the time went under this summer. They decided not to pack it in but instead joined the Dutch Shipment Cooperation (NedBC). They will take care of transport to and from the French market. "We are hard at work to not let it be in vain."
"NedBC was founded in August. It is active in the transport sector within the Netherlands, England, and Germany. There, we implement our specialist knowledge gained from the French market. In the Dutch Shipment Cooperation, we have about 15 permanent vehicles. However, within the group we can draw from about 70", says Henk
"We started in a quiet month. Now, however, we already take care of about 25 loads per week. We also want to expand this gradually. Ultimately, I hope we will have complete coverage of the whole of France both with groupage and full trucks. That is a big job. France is a big country. But, we are ambitious."
"We know the French market well and have started with our existing client network. We want to really focus on fruit and vegetable transportation. After a few phone calls, it seems this market was wide open. So, we jumped in", continues Henk.
"Arranging a Rungis load is simple. Getting to Avignon every morning on time is a different story. Our job has changed considerably compared to the past. We are now much more active in approaching clients and bringing in transport. This, however, gives an extra dimension to the job."
"We can exchange vehicles among each other in the group. This makes us very flexible. Reliability is key in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. We say what we do and do what we say. We want to distinguish ourselves in this way.", continues Henk.
"Of course you have to be competitive when it comes to prices. However, the goodwill factor also plays an important role. My colleague, Philippe, had angry clients on the phone for 18 months. He was, however, ready to help them at any time of the day or night. His French background and his trustworthiness were great advantages in this. That is a great place to start from."
In recent weeks, the so-called "Yellow Vests" have been causing problems with French transportation. "Various vehicles were delayed, and connection missed. With the Christmas season at hand, the hope is that the excise agreement will result in these blockades stopping", says Henk.
They are still looking for a strategically-placed location. "We are thinking of having a site near Barendrecht or Bodegraven. However, Breda is also still an option", he concludes.