Thirteen years ago, Eric and Lizette de Loo bought an asparagus peeler, almost by accident. They were one of the first to do so. It was exciting at first. But they now have their third Tenrit Foodtech machine in use. "It's actually one of the best things we've ever done. People were initially wary of the extra one euro peeling cost. But now we sell 80% of our asparagus peeled in the farm store. We can't do without it anymore," he says.
Hans Vos (Synergy Systems), Lars Heuvelmans (Tenrit) and Lizette en Eric de Loo (Boerderijwinkel Lizette)
"Clients were also afraid the machine wouldn't peel the asparagus properly," adds Lizette. "But once they try it, they're convinced." The De Loo family has an open-field vegetable farm and runs a farm store in the Netherlands. Asparagus is an important product on the farm. They grow ten hectares of these white stemmed vegetables. They sell most of it in their store and the rest at auction.
At the Lizette farm store, customers wait while their asparagus is peeled. So, the product is super fresh. "Everyone selects their preferred type of asparagus," says Lizette. The peeling machine peels the asparagus at high speed. The COVID-19 rules only allow ten shoppers in the store at once. Because of that, Eric says he has to make sure there's someone to operate the machine.
Before, they often put the asparagus through the peeler themselves. However, Eric and Lizette now make sure there are people ready to do that. That guarantees a smooth flow in the store. The pair have also notice that more supermarkets have an asparagus peeling machine. They don't think it'll affect them much. Not if the supermarket's machine is unavailable or not expertly operated.
"Our asparagus' main benefit is its freshness. Supermarket asparagus are displayed for longer and, so, dry out sooner. The asparagus peeled by us last for two to three days and are a top product," says Eric. The peeling machine can also add value to B-grade asparagus. The Lizette farm store peels these asparagus which don't fetch much at auction. They then process them into salads that they sell in their store.
Depending on the weather, the couple will have started selling asparagus now again. These white stemmed vegetables attract more customers to the store. It's especially busy around Easter, which is the season's peak. It's then all the more important that the peeling machine is in tip-top condition.
That's why Eric and Lizette give their asparagus peeler a pre-season service. "We have the machine checked beforehand so that we don't run into any unexpected problems during the season. If an unplanned issue should arise then, it's nice to have a reliable partner come to your aid," Eric says.
"That's also necessary because the asparagus season is very short," says Hans Vos of Synergy Systems. This Dutch company supplied the De Loo's asparagus peeling machine. "The season only lasts a few months. If you lose a day of peeling, it costs a lot of money and customers." Along with manufacturer, Tenrit, Synergy Systems offers a pre-season service for the peelers. The machines are then good to go before the asparagus season gets underway.
"We ensure we're ready at the beginning of March. Then everyone can start again," says Hans. In doing so, manufacturer and supplier use each other's expertise and learn from each other. "The pre-season service is important. The peelers run non-stop for the season and then stop entirely for nine months. If everything is checked before the season begins, it saves a lot of headache during the season itself," concludes Lars Heuvelmans of Territ.
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