Seasoned overseas fruit import and sales representatives and former colleagues Roelant Komen, José Cubero, Erik Rustenburg, and Yesy Lalupú have started a new company: BeeFair Organic. Last week this new business, based in the Netherlands, obtained its organic and fair trade certification.
The first containers of organic avocados are already on their way, soon followed by organic mangoes and ginger. The tasks are clearly divided. Roelant will focus mainly on sales, José on imports and certifications, and Erik is in charge of finances. Yesy leads the team in Peru.
Systems and certificates
"We officially launched the company on April 3," begins José. "Recently, we've been especially busy with our computer system and certification. Now that we're organically certified, it's time to go public. We wanted an office close to our goods. That took some searching, but we succeeded and are renting space at ABC Westland in Poeldijk, where storage and transshipment also take place."
A sister office was started in Peru at the same time as the Dutch one. "That offers us great advantages. Our Peruvian colleagues guide the growers," says José.
"They help them with certifications and export the fruit. They also supervise our social projects. Besides Peru, we'll also focus on imports from other areas."
"Those include Latin America, South and West Africa, and Europe. The primary focus is on avocados, mangoes, ginger, bananas, citrus, and limes," José explains.
Impacting local community
"Our philosophy is to be a reliable partner for our customers and supplies. Here, integrity and transparency are key. We not only want to sell our overseas growers' products; we also want to make an impact on the local community through social projects. We, thus, commit to doing good, but less with words and more with deeds," Erik adds.
Roelant has no doubt the organic market will keep growing. "People are increasingly deliberately choosing healthy food. This organic trend will continue. Sales in the Netherlands, for example, are still a bit behind other European countries, but eventually, we expect Europe-wide growth in the organic market," he says.
BeeFair Organic will focus on sales to European retailers, wholesalers, and - not unimportant for the organic sector - natural food stores. Is importing exotics not a sensitive issue in the organic market? "We often have that discussion," José answers. "But not everything can be grown in the Netherlands, so we go with the seasons. I'm sometimes surprised that people complain about avocados from Mexico but not about those from Spain, with its ongoing water shortages."
Besides European sales, BeeFair Organic can serve clients directly from its sister office in Peru. For instance, the first containers of organic avocados have already been shipped directly to European buyers. They want to ship to Canada and the United States too.
"We don't intend to react to spot market whims; we believe in working according to a program, then you can unburden customers honestly and transparently. Working in an integrated, social way also suits the organic sector. When we leave this earth, we want to have left something behind," concludes José.
For more information:
Roelant Komen, José Cubero, Erik Rustenburg, Yesy Lalupú
Bee Fair Organic Holland
Poeldijk, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0) 627 823 496