After a career spanning 30 years, Romain Cools, the secretary general of Belgapom, will say farewell to Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade & processing industry association. He will hand over to Tom Vandenkendelaere, who starting from January 2021 will become the new CEO of Belgapom, according to the organisation.
Tom Vandenkendelaere will also act as the director of FVPhouse, the service umbrella organisation of the potato, fruit and vegetable trade & processing associations.
Marc Van Herreweghe, General president of Belgapom says: ‘Romain Cools will remain active in an advisory role for his successor until 1 July 2021. He can look back on an exceptionally rich career. Over the past three decades he was active not only as the secretary general of Belgapom and the director of FVPhouse, but for 17 years was also the secretary general of Vegebe, the Belgian association for vegetable processing. In addition, he fulfilled a role as the secretary general of Europatat, the European federation for the potato trade (15 years), EUPPA, the European federation for the potato processing industry (8 years). Today, Romain Cools is also the chairman/CEO of the Canadian NGO World Potato Congress inc, a network platform for the global potato chain. Many will recognise that he is renowned in the agri-food world’.
Romain Cools: ‘I am grateful to look back on an extremely fascinating career and numerous contacts within the value chain. I am happy with my successor Tom whose commitment and drive mirrors my own.’
His successor Tom Vandenkendelaere acquired national fame as a MEP between 2014 and 2019. Today he is active as an interim elderman of Roeselare, to replace Minister Nathalie Muylle, and as an independent consultant for European agricultural policy. Tom Vandenkendelaere holds a PhD in international relations, was chairman of JONGCD&V and was active in the European Parliament in the committees on Agriculture, Economic and Monetary Affairs and Employment and Social Affairs. In the latter function he gained extensive knowledge of the Belgian potato sector when he actively followed the trade conflicts relating to the export of Belgian frozen potatoes. He also closely followed the issues of the potato sector in the reform of the European agricultural policy and for Brexit.
The arrival of Tom Vandenkendelaere is the exponent of the generational turnover that the entire sector is experiencing: “It is my ambition to further strengthen the growth of this Belgian number one sector, to protect its interests in the area of sustainability and simultaneously its strong position in the world and keep developing them. It is with great pride that I will devote myself to ‘our’ potato and the many products derived from it, the calling card of the Belgian agri-food sector if you ask me. With Romain Cools as my predecessor I have illustrious footsteps to follow in, but it is a challenge I am happy to accept. I am grateful for the opportunity to carefully prepare for the transition together, also in the interest of sector.’ ‘The only thing I won’t ask for his advice about is his farewell party. That should remain a surprise’ Vandenkendelaere concludes with a wink.