Sergey Geraskin has worked in the Dutch fruit and vegetable export sector for many years. Last year, he and his son, Anton, started their own business, GAAST. It focuses on exports to Eastern Europe. There were some obstacles. Nevertheless, the experienced exporter reflects on the company's first year with satisfaction. "Thanks to our loyal suppliers and customers, we've had a great year. Our mixed loads did especially well," Sergey begins.
"We didn't expect the year to go so well. We'd lost several clients. That was because the banks would no longer accept money from Belarus and Russia. That was due to the sanctions. But, we didn't give up and looked for buyers elsewhere. We ended up with a higher turnover than I've been used to in recent years."
GAAST found most of those customers in Ukraine and Moldovia. "We mainly supply wholesale clients. They, in turn, supply supermarkets, and other markets. That works perfectly for us. Say you supply supermarkets directly and have a quality issue. Then you immediately have a problem. Our buyers provide solutions themselves," explains Sergey.
Increased demand for products with added value
The COVID-19 pandemic did affect GAAST's export streams. Although, it was not necessarily in a negative sense. "In Eastern Europe, too, many eateries were closed. That meant that typical restaurant products like arugula and lamb's ear dropped out of the range. But there was more demand for products with added value, such as mature exotics. There was also much more demand for packaged goods."
Sergey is confident about GAAST's future. "We'd like to thank everyone who supported us from when we started," he adds. "Despite the challenges we encountered, we're in good shape. We have our customers' trust. They are also increasingly asking us to meet their demands for overseas fruit like citrus and kiwis. Our primary goal isn't to gain many new clients. We, first and foremost, want to serve our regular buyers as well as possible."
Sergey and his family left the Soviet Union for the Netherlands 30 years ago. He calls GAAST being a true family business, a great advantage. "Our company name reflects that. The letters stand for Geraskin, Anita, Anton, Servey, and Tatjana. Together we stand strong," Sergey concludes.