The Dutch hospitality industry is AGF Overtoom's biggest client group. It accounts for 70% of the company's turnover. So, its closure represents a significant loss of income. The wholesaler, nonetheless, not decided to throw in the towel. It sought and found expansion in export markets. "Scandinavia is our largest export market," says new business export manager Matthew van Gestel.
"By now, the number of countries we supply has increased significantly. Last year, I visited Germany in October. I went to all the major markets from Hamburg to Bremen, Hanover, Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt. There we met several new customers, with whom we now do nice business."
Mustafa and Matthew
"In November 2021, I spent a week in Belgium and France. We have several buyers at Rungis, the French wholesale market. We gained a few more in Belgium too. This week is scheduled for Denmark. And in February and March, I'll be visiting existing and potential new customers in Sweden, Norway, and Finland," Matthew continues.
"The Cash&Carry, too, continues to run well. Every day from 05:00, the doors open for our wholesale clients. Most are ethnic supermarkets from all over the Netherlands. Mustafa (the owner), Kurty Ozdemir (general manager), and I form a strong leadership team. I'm proud to be part of it."
"Turkish trade is our true trump card on the market. We've been importing directly from Turkey since 2014. The goods arrive twice a week, every Monday and Thursday. We can, therefore, guarantee fresh Turkish fruits and vegetables. From tomatoes to chilies and pomegranates, we can truly distinguish ourselves with these direct imports," Matthew explains.
"We began with a box here and there. That grew to a pallet from time to time. Now, we occasionally have full truckloads arriving. These are significant volumes, which is great to see. And many of our customers don't just order Turkish trade. They know they can find products like citrus and exotics here too."
Kurty and Matthew
The fluctuating lira is making Turkish exporters nervous, says the manager. "We recently bought at the exact right time. Shortly afterward, the lira's value dropped. You're sometimes lucky like that. But, ultimately, you wish all your business partners all the best. After all, we're all in this together. We're optimistic about 2022. Last year was challenging; this one can only bet better. The wholesale business has continued to run well, and exports are expanding. The hospitality industry reopening will make things all that much brighter," Matthew concludes.