Veiling Zaltbommel will actively enter the market to expand its growers and buyer audience. "We now often serve the same type of customers. They are mainly from the Dutch wholesale market, but we see opportunities to serve a wider range of customers, such as smaller supermarket chains, processors, catering and fruit and vegetable specialists, including those abroad," says the recently appointed commercial manager Erwin van den Oever. "But in order to achieve this growth, we are also looking for growers, so that we can be a real one-stop-shop for our customers with a wider range."
Van den Oever joined the auction in November 2020 after having worked for 11 years at La Place and over 17 years at Sligro Food Group, where he was responsible for all fresh produce groups from Texel to Terneuzen. In recent years, as a regional sales manager, he worked from the Rotterdam wholesale market Spaanse Polder, so that he often rubbed shoulders with the fresh produce world. "The difference with the fruit and vegetable sector was that you were in charge of the entire fresh category there and called in the specialist where necessary. In the fruit and vegetable sector you see more that you are dealing with the product specialist from start to finish."
The target for the commercial manager for 2021 is clear. "Research was recently conducted into the future of the auction and the vision has been elaborated in a multi-year plan. The conclusion, after thorough research, was that continuing as a flexible player has plenty of opportunities for the long term. Customisation, short lines, optimal service and quality for the members / growers are central to this. We want to expand this year to a grower turnover of 60 million Euro. This year we had a total turnover of 60 million Euro and we see plenty of opportunities to expand this further. The Corona crisis has had little adverse effect on us as our turnover has increased by 14% in the past year and if the hospitality industry had been open, it would probably have been even higher. "
Right mix of customers and products
"As a niche player in the market, we offer our customers flexibility, customisation and personal service. We can switch quickly because the lines are short. In addition, we have regular personal contact with buyers and growers. This offers good opportunities to become a completely customised sales organization for fruit and vegetables to become members / growers. In order to expand, we are looking for the right mix of growers, customers and products in all segments. We realise that we cannot just go to Albert Heijn or Jumbo with a product But for other smaller supermarket chains we have a good range available from our 130 regular growers and another 120 guest members. We also think we can play a greater role in sales to countries in neighbouring countries, where Dutch fruit and vegetables are highly credited," Erwin continues.
Soft fruit represents about half of the turnover at Veiling Zaltbommel, peppers are also an important product category due to the collaboration with Oxin Growers and Coöperatie Hoogstraten, but the auction also wants to grow further in the other Dutch fruit and vegetables from home soil. "In doing so, we look for the segments that suit our customers, so qualitative trade for a good price. It is not that we are going to do something new after 100 years, but sometimes you have to polish a diamond. That is why we actively approach our customers, according to their wishes. This has resulted, among other things, that from this season we will be offering aubergines from our grower under our Suprimo brand. "
Clock sales are gaining momentum
Clock sales currently represent 15% of the turnover of Veiling Zaltbommel and they are eager to increase that share. "We currently have a number of brokered product lines that reach the auction floor, which are in fact unprofitable. We would like to get these before the clock, to give clock sales a further boost. Ideally we want clock sales to rise by around 20%, then we will have a nice balance to divide the volume between clock and mediation," says Erwin. "What is new is that from this year onwards we have the ambition to allow our clock buyers to also buy digitally remotely. Obviously, clocking in the auction banks will continue to exist as it does now, so that we certainly do not drive away our current buyers. On a busy day, we have at least 35 buyers for the clock here, so those physical clock sales will certainly keep their function."
Import products are increasingly sold at the clock in Zaltbommel. "It is not the case that we ourselves directly look for growers in the Mediterranean area, but we do offer import products from our buyers that suit us. For example, we had citrus and radish for the clock this week. With my Sligro experience, I know the way to Rungis. But we selectively look at which products suit our customers and how often we want to offer them. I'm sure we'll make some mistakes, but in the end we will have a wider supply which will make both growers, buyers and the auction happy. But we are mainly there for our members. Our raison d'être as a cooperative is to sell our members' trade at the best price," Erwin emphasizes.