There's no doubt - it's risky to start a company during a global pandemic. But, that's precisely what Ruud Kester dared to do. "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. Having your own business is a dream come true." That's why, in December, Ruud started Lyna Trade. "I'm now an agent in the fruit and vegetable sector."
"Now, I can connect growers and importers. My company differs from other agencies. I remain involved in the process, from start to finish. I mainly focus on trading overseas fruit and vegetable. These include areas like South America and Africa. In recent years, I've built up a network of people in the sector there."
Avocados from Mexico, citrus from Egypt, and mangos and ginger from Peru - Kester manages them all. "I mostly deal with the paperwork. I represent and advocate for growers. So, I don't see the actual products. But, rather, I make the contacts and arrange the commercial paperwork. Nevertheless, I remain the point of contact for traders' questions and problems."
Ruud can source fruit and vegetables from anywhere in the world. "My company isn't tied down to its work location. We're currently working on a project. We've arranged trade between Egyptian citrus growers and South American importers in Argentina. The season in the southern hemisphere might be over. But, people in South America keep eating oranges throughout the year. We can now fill that gap with produce from North Africa."
The South American and European markets do, however, differ vastly. "Certifications such as SMERTA and GlobalGAP aren't required in South America. So, there's far less paperwork. Europe is the most difficult final destination in that respect. Only certified growers are allowed in. In the future, we could arrange these certifications as an added service. We already do something similar. The company can, for example, get insurance for in-transit cargo, if the parties want it," concludes Ruud.