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Guy De Meyer:

“Responding to drive-ins and pick-up points necessary”

Demargro is a well-known name in fruit and veg. The Belgian company has been carrying a wide range of products for over thirty years now. During the winter months, the product range is expanded with cabbage, leek and top fruit. During the summer months, tomatoes, eggplants, bell pepper and cucumbers are the main products. Guy De Meyer, managing director, talks about the company and developments in the sector.

Your product range mainly comprises of Belgian produce. What is your most important market?
“The French market is most important, but that market is also rather chauvinistic, making it very important for us to offer a very wide range of products. In addition to the main products, like tomatoes and leek, our clients are also asking for a range of ‘smaller’ products, like rhubarb, salsify, asparagus, gherkins and snowberries. You have to carry a broad range to adapt to the current market situation. But there is room for Belgian produce on that market. We mainly carry Belgian produce, but we also have a little bit of import. We also have our own procurement office in Phalempin, in the north of France, where we buy French products like leek, cauliflower and Belgian endive.”

What are other important markets, apart from France?
“Europe is of course important, but we also see potential in the Asian market, especially Japan. The volumes for those markets are smaller, but it’s a nice addition. We’re seeing the market in Europe change: supermarkets merging, and upscaling. We want to retain the French market, but are also looking at new markets.”

Why are you looking to Japan? And are you also considering other markets?
“For now, we’re only looking at Japan. We’ve been to a trade show there and have established contacts, so we want to expand on that now. Japan is mainly interested in leek, Belgian endive, bell peppers and hopefully tomatoes. Of course we also see potential in other markets like India and Canada, but if you focus on a new market, you have to go for it 100%. We don’t have a lot of opportunities to focus on all the markets, but of course we do follow the developments.”

Do you see a future in online sales?
“A lot of trade is already conducted via e-mail, but contact with the client remains important. That way you also get more information about the market situation, and you can respond to developments noticed by clients, for instance. That’s why we call each of our clients at least once a day, and we respond fast. For instance, if a shortage of tomatoes looms in France, we know about it very quickly, because we talk to our French clients daily.”

Do you see developments within retail you have high expectations of for the future?
“In France, the number of drive-ins increases rapidly, and everyone is working on pick-up points. We have to respond to that, for instance by using specific packagings. At the moment, there’s still little room for fruit and veg in these initiatives, but that can only grow. We need to look for a way to market our products, for instance by putting together packages for a week. It’s important for us to deliver good quality though, because if a consumer is pleased with their purchase two or three times, they will return. It also has an advantage, in supermarkets everyone handles the products and puts them back again, or takes the bottom apple from the shelf. With good packaging, we can prevent damage to the product.”

More information:
Guy de Meyer

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