Andy Chen has worked in the Chinese fruit and vegetable export sector for years. In 2016, he moved to the Netherlands to work for their branch company Intafresh BV which established in 2012 The company is a 100% subsidiary of a Chinese grower organization. It focuses on importing, sorting, and packing ginger for the European market. It stores its garlic at ZZC Coldstore in the Netherlands.
This year, container prices rose astronomically. That led to the company making an extraordinary decision. Five weeks ago, it stopped importing ginger from China. "I’ve been in the business for 25 years and have never experienced something like this. The cost to import using a container is higher than the break-even point. And logistics costs will only keep rising until February," Andy explains.
Intafresh is not entirely without ginger. It gets this product from Peru and Brazil too. "We can supply our customers with ginger. Also, fortunately, the ginger market is usually much quieter in the summer. That won't change either - people know it’s a perfect product to use to warm up. We still import garlic from China; to meet agreed-upon programs. The garlic market is excellent. There’s a gap between the old and new harvest. And prices are high.”
Intafresh supplies importers, supermarkets and their suppliers on the European market. The company also sells organic ginger, albeit on a limited scale. Chinese producers are increasingly opening sales offices in the Netherlands. Andy, however, does not consider this a threat. "Competition is increasing. But that helps us remain sharp and to keep developing,” Andy continues.
“Anyway, when the market’s good, you see ginger popping up from all over the world. But when the market’s tougher, the work comes down to the true specialists. Our parent company controls the entire chain, from cultivation to export. We, therefore, have control over every process in it.”
In the summer, ten to 15 people work in Intrafresh’s warehouse. In the winter, that’s between 20 and 25. "By now, many companies know we’re a supplier. However, not everyone knows we can also provide many other services around ginger. These concern cleaning, sorting, repackaging, and packing. So, if you have a batch of ginger that’s giving you issues, we have the solution,” Andy concludes.