Getting the ball rolling. That's what Bart Leemans plans to do with his new company, Bal073, in the Netherlands. Bart has years of experience in the foodservice sector. Now, he'll be helping companies enter that market.
“I've noticed in recent years that many businesses have trouble approaching the foodservice market. Those are primary fruit and vegetable sector companies. There's a vast difference between retail and foodservice. Compared to retail, foodservice is a completely different game with different rules," begins Bart.
Bart Leemans, Bal073's founder.
According to him, the main difference is in sales and the road leading to that. "When you make a deal with a retailer, the volume and sales are often known. It works differently in the foodservice sector. A chef has to want to use your product. It must earn its spot on the menu."
"That can be difficult. There are so many chefs and just as many opinions." It remains a challenge even once chefs include products in their menu. For example, not every restaurant within a chain has the same menu. "You have to convince every single chef of your product," says Bart.
Quality and availability
Two things are vital to enter the foodservice market successfully. "Quality and availability make all the difference. Quality is at the top of chefs' lists. They want to work with only the best products. You must be able to offer that. Chefs must also be able to rely on the product being available. Added to these two factors, chefs - unlike retailers - ask how they can use products. You have to be able to provide that piece of product information too."
Bal073 is going to focus on both the local and international markets. "Because of my network, the company has a lot of access in different countries. The Emirates is an extensive, luxurious market. But the German foodservice sector also offers many opportunities. A primary fruit and vegetable company's product must be in demand for it to be successful internationally. The market mustn't be saturated. These are things I'll be looking into for companies," Bart explains.
The foodservice sector's future
The foodservice sector has had a tough year. Leemans thinks it'll be a while before it picks up again. "But I'm 300% sure this sector will recover fully. Perhaps in a different guise, with quality becoming even more important. Business trips are being planned for when it's allowed again. And people will visit restaurants again. People are social beings; they need company. We must just be patient a little longer; everything will be fine."
The desire for local products is also gaining importance in the foodservice sector. "The Local for Local concept is one you can no longer do without within this market. People like to know where products originate. That's a fantastic development but also a challenge. This sector has plenty of challenges. And I hope to be able to help many companies overcome them. The ball has to keep rolling," Bart concludes.
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