“In the past, everything could be sold per pallet, but that’s no longer the case. The market has become much more fractured. My German customers prefer buying smaller volumes every day of the week rather than placing one large order once a week. This development isn’t new,” says Aart Hak, who has been active as exporter on the German market since 2003. With his company, I.F.P. Holland, short for Independent Fresh Partner, he wants to provide his customers with an extensive and deep assortment in an independent manner. “I look for the best products with the best quality on the market every day, without doing my own importing or producing. That’s why I’m not dependent on any suppliers or (major) buyers.”
Germany is an important sales market for Aart. “Our customers are German importers and wholesalers, although they’re managing to find their way in the Netherlands, and in Europe, more and more. Product that previously came through the Netherlands, is now shipped from Spain straight to Germany, for example.” A lot has changed since he started in 2003. “It isn’t just the trade that’s more fractured, the assortment has also become much more extensive.I’d say you couldn’t go much deeper. A lot of these products are now called ‘specialities.’ You can still be distinctive in that when you have your business in order, and when you also have the trade gathered on time to be shipped. Logistics are often the biggest challenge. In the end, it’s important the customer receives what they ordered, and that’s it’s on time.”
Completely refrigerated shed
I.F.P. Holland has recently made a lot of investments into their own building. Last year, both the inside and the outside of the shed were completely renovated. “We now have a completely refrigerated shed with good shipping facilities. That’s necessary to handle products as optimally as possible. We buy every day, but our shed is practically empty every evening. That’s a way of working I truly believe in. At the same time, it’s a very intense game as well.”
That game is called trade, and a lot of that is about trust. As a smaller exporter, that might be even more important. “I rarely have opportunity customers. The customers we serve, we serve every day.
Relationships with customers are about more than just placing an order. You talk to each other every day, and that builds a relationship. Our service, delivery reliability and additional attention paid to quality are important to us. Having a click is naturally important as well. A German would say: ‘Klein aber fein.’ That definitely applies to us,” Aart concludes.