Filip Fontaine, VLAM

"For every euro VLAM invests, we make five"

Filip Fontaine has been the Flanders Agricultural Marketing Board's (VLAM) General Director since 1 July. He succeeded Frans De Wachter. De Wachter retired after a long career at VLAM. Fontaine was there when the Belgian Cooperative, BelOrta, was founded. He also filled the role of interim CEO at EIT Food and Lidwina.

“I have been a director at several fruit and vegetable auctions. I have always found fantastic products. In this job, I am, however, also involved with other products. These include dairy, fish, meat, and floriculture. I now get the whole pallet. That makes the work challenging and exciting. It is great to come into contact with the other sectors now too," says Filip.

It was recently announced that VLAM has again received a record amount of marketing subsidies. VLAM will get almost €28 million in total operating funds in 2020. "We are delighted with this. For each euro we get from the Flemish government, we make five. And for every euro we get from the sector, we make two. That is significant leverage," says Flip with satisfaction.

“A good, versatile, intelligent team with ample experiences gets these budgets. Our file is very LEAN, and our peripheral costs are low. We can, therefore, focus on what really matters - promoting the products. Dossier approvals allow us to explore countries both within and outside of Europe."

Healthy, sustainable food
In the coming year, VLAM is going to focus on two important core issues. "On the local market, we will focus on healthy, sustainable food under the banner, Lekker van bij ons (Tasty from us). Overseas, we are mainly focused on supporting exporters in new markets, as well as further professionalization," continues Fontaine.

“We must use our resources as efficiently as we can. Then we can supply as much added value as possible to, not only, our sectors. We must provide this for the people that have entrusted us with some of their limited resources as well. VLAM has been following this route for many years now. I want to continue to do so."

“What we will be focusing more on, logistically, in the coming years, is online marketing. This marketing must be done without losing sight of, for example, radio and TV. We create an enormous amount of impact with those mediums. A good mix of media is the holy grail of effective marketing," explains the General Director.

Niches, new markets, and focus on exports
VLAM is a unique, independent hub between the government, the business sector, and the consumer. According to Fontaine, people tend to forget this. "We play a connecting role. We also have a dynamic, creative team and have gained a lot of experience. These factors ensure we are very successful in securing European financing for our campaigns and plans."

"Furthermore, society is very much in our favor. There is increasing attention being placed on nutrition. People are eating more consciously too. Our primary food production is an economic actor. We support it by being smart. We try to find new markets and niches. We also focus on exports."

“One of the most successful campaigns we have done is a cheese one. After this marketing, the product was 90% known. It was a very sustained campaign that we continued with for a long time," adds Liliane Driesen, VLAM's spokesperson. "In principle, it does not matter whether we like a campaign or not."

"If it reaches our target group effectively and efficiently, we are satisfied. The most important thing for us is that we reach the goals we have set. We evaluate and measure most of our marketing campaigns. We do not rely on a gut feeling. We want to be able to see the campaign results."

EU fruit and vegetable projects to be undertaken in 2020
1. EU project for Conference pears in Brazil.
2. EU project for Conference pears in Germany and Austria.
3. EU project for Conference pears in China.
4. EU project for fruit and vegetables in America.
5. EU project for vegetables in Belgium.

Click here for more information about the EU projects and VLAM's entire annual program.

For more information:
Filip Fontaine
Box 50, Boulevard Du Roi Albert II 25
B-1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: + 32 (0) 255 28 011

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