The PEQ team faced a major challenge this spring. The Dutch season had started, the relocation of the building at Westerlee to Honderdland took place on April 18 and the transition to the ERP package Navision was also planned in between. "It was a stressful time, but fortunately it all went well," director Maarten Voois reminisces with satisfaction. The team is already preparing for the winter season and offers the opportunity to package a wider range of fruit and vegetables in the new building.
Maarten Voois and Marc Vriesen in front of the building
In the new building, which has of 9,000 m2 of floor space, the company certainly has all the space they need to carry out the packaging activities. The building is spread over two floors, separating the packaging department and logistics activities. The top packing department has cold storage space for 400 pallets, while downstairs there is capacity for 1,000 pallets of cold storage and another 1,000 pallets in the loading area. The building's veins consist of two high-speed lifts and a large freight lift. The building uses a WMS, so that every pallet can be traced. The sorting machines and various packaging machines, including eight flowpack lines, are located upstairs.
Every pallet is traceable
"In our previous building we had really outgrown ourselves. The space we have here gives so much peace of mind, even if the hall is completely full. The entire production area is located on a ten-metre high mezzanine above the cold stores, but although it is a reasonably complex building, we quickly had the process under control," says operational manager Marc Vriesen. At the moment, the company is even exploring the need to install an extra floor to make even better use of the height of the building and so that packaging can be done at multiple temperature zones, even in summer.
During the Dutch season, peppers and cucumbers are by far the main share of the packaging activities. With a view to the winter season, the packer is still looking for products to expand the packaging activities. "We didn't have that option in the previous building, but here we have all the packaging options available. Whether it concerns soft fruit, exotics, grapes or sweet potatoes, we have a suitable packaging solution for every product. For suppliers in the Netherlands, but also for foreign growers, we have every option to select the products, to pack and package them in the desired packaging, varying from sealing, flow packing and top sealing. We have our own inspection department and possibly also office space available in the building. We also carry all possible certifications, such as BRC, IFS, QS, Skal, Sedex, etc.," says Maarten.
"By expanding the activities in the winter season, we also hope to bind our temporary workers to our company. We now work with a permanent core of about thirty people who we guarantee work all year round, partly from the point of view of good employment practices," says Maarten. The Corona crisis only increased the pressure at PEQ. "85% of our bell peppers go to retail, so that turnover was even higher. We did, however, immediately invest heavily in things like screens and cleaning. Fortunately, the Corona virus has not affected our staffing. We are doing everything we can to keep it out, with temperature controls and by strictly following guidelines."
Although the use of plastic packaging has been a hot topic of discussion in recent years, the packaging company does not see any change in the purchasing behaviour of the retailers on that point. "The share of packaged products is certainly not decreasing. It is increasingly recognised that plastic packaging has an important function in keeping the product fresh and thus prevent food waste," says Maarten. "We continue to monitor the market closely and are currently working on biodegradable plastics, among others. "
The traffic light packaging still remains a favourite of many stores, although you can see the colour ratio change. In Germany the green pepper is still in the traffic lights, but markets such as England are increasingly opting for red and yellow. As a result, you see the area of green peppers - which traditionally give the most kilos, but also require more labour - decrease. This makes it more important to bind growers to you. We expect to grow 15% in acreage next pepper season. "
The fast lifts act as 'veins' in the building