From bulk packaging to mature potato shelves

When Landjuweel introduced their label Jongens van de Klei in 2013, the potato shelves mostly consisted of bulk packaging. According to commercial manager Joeri Wulff, the departments are now much more mature. “We’re expanding with small packaging and packaging with specific aims more and more, in order to anticipate the wishes of modern consumers.”

Joeri Wulff, Landjuweel

Potatoes every week
The product line of Jongens van de Klei consists of traditional varieties such as Bildtstar, Frieslander, Doré and Eigenheimer, in small packaging for one or two meals. “Although there’s still a large group of people who buy a bag of potatoes every week, modern consumers choose what they eat once they’re in the supermarket. When you only stock bags of 10 kilograms, they won’t choose potatoes.” The current potato market is much more dynamic than 10 years ago. Although a decrease in volume of 3 to 4 per cent can be seen every year, the number of bags sold remains similar to previous years.

Peak periods less busy
Landjuweel is located in Oosternieland in Groningen, the Netherlands. From there, the company supplies more than 250 products per year, particularly to retail and food service. They have a cleaning plant with three cleaning lines, three complete optical sorting lines and 14 packing machines. The company offers work for 50 FTE, and additional workers are hired during peak periods. “Because potatoes are eaten differently nowadays, peaks aren’t as high as before,” Joeri says. “In the past, you had to work very hard in winter, when everyone started eating hotchpotch. Consumers are now more focused on convenience. That’s why we have, for example, a potato that can be cooked in 12 minutes. We also supply roast and chip potatoes throughout the year, just like sweet potatoes. The increase of import and better storage techniques also ensure the busyness is more balanced throughout the year.”

Quickly expanding the assortment
The entire product line can be found in the northern supermarkets, while supermarkets elsewhere in the country choose a selection. “We specifically developed the label Jongens van de Klei for the smaller shop chains, so that they can quickly and easily expand their shelves without having to make major investments. In recent years, we supplied to all our customers, including Plus, Emté, Spar and Sligro.” Besides Jongens van de Klei, Landjuweel also supplies products under private label and in luxury upright bags with the Le Bistro name. Of the latter, sales increased explosively in recent years. “Even compared to last year we sold much more. A mix with potatoes in three colours, according to responses and as evidenced by purchasing behaviour, customers appreciate that. This did very well around Christmas.”

2018: Strange potato year
“The product has to be flavourful and of good quality, but it should also have a good peel quality and be visually appealing, for younger consumers in particular. When the harvest occurs in wet circumstances, like in 2017, it becomes difficult to get a beautiful peel. Problems were different in 2018. The dry summer mostly affected the amounts. It was a weird potato year, in any case. Last harvest year we had an extreme amount, and now we have extremely little. Because of that, the first half of 2018 is completely different compared to the second half.”

Mature potato shelves
The packaging of Jongens van de Klei feature recipes and references to the growers. “In the future, we’ll have to continue to surprise consumers with varying products and the story behind them. I expect we’ll be seeing more of that in future. With our customers, we’ll make the potato shelves more mature.” What about the growers? “They’re proud of their company and the product they supply, and that’s what it’s all about.” 

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