Arnoud van Stralen, Nedalpac:

"Specialized chains have the future"

Day trade is not the sort of thing Nedalpac deals with. "We fulfil the customer's demand from the customer wishes," general manager Arnoud van Stralen sums up the activities of the fresh produce company from Venlo. So the client database doesn't contain hundreds of accounts. The German and Dutch retailers Nedalpac supplies to, are supplied with fruit and vegetables all year though. Since this summer, that occurs from a modern building along the A73, which means capacity has suddenly increased significantly.


Arnoud van Stralen in front of the building

"We mainly focus on the German and Dutch retail discounters. At the customer's request, we find the right supplier of the right product, to fulfil that demand. In over 25 years, we have gathered plenty of experience. In line with our customer base, we can fill in the chain very efficiently," says Arnoud, who has been working with the company for three years this month. "In addition, we work very transparently. Our suppliers know who the end customers is, and vice versa. The bulk of our revenue comes from greenhouse vegetables, but there are also customers to whom we supply no less than sixty products. You can see customers like Aldi, but also Edeka and Metro developing more and more when it comes to shelves, presentation and product range. We happily accompany them in that development. For instance, our revenue in organic products, specialities and snack vegetables has made a significant leap in the past two years."

The Nedalpac suppliers are, for the most part, growers' cooperatives. "We only have a select group of own growers for whom we market the entire range ourselves. That's because our buyers have very specific requirements. For instance, we can't use certain sizes at all. But from the suppliers we work with, we do buy a large volume, throughout the year. That makes us a very reliable partner," Arnoud continues. "We are not big enough to influence market prices, but through our transparency and efficient chain, we can make sure that costs remain as low as possible."

Total Produce Group
Since 2008, Nedalpac has been part of the Total Produce group. According to Arnoud, that's a big advantage. "We have a financially solid partner behind us, with a very good reputation in the fresh produce sector. So we don't get any questions about our solvency, for instance. As Nedalpac, we ourselves are responsible for our results and day-to-day business. But of course you get synergy benefits from the Total Produce network. This building is a great example of that."


Interior

Nedalpac had been looking for a bigger building to satisfy the growth for some time. But when this building in Freshpark Venlo became available, this search accelerated. After a public auction, the Total Produce real estate branch became the owner - and Nedalpac tenant - of the building with a total area of over 9,000 m2, including around 2,000 m2 cooling space and around 1,200 m2 office space. "We were in an outdated building, and this new building has definitely given the company a boost. That applies internally, but also in talks with suppliers and customers. We simply needed the warehouse and packaging space, and the extra office space was an added bonus. This means we are still looking for potential tenants for this."

No one-day fly
The board room of the building where the interview takes place, looks rather unused. "I sit at the commercial table myself, buy the bell peppers and fill in for colleagues when they're absent. Commerce is the core of our business, and I like being in the centre of that, not having to follow the day-to-day game from an ivory tower," Arnoud says. "We have customers we supply with fruit and vegetables 364 days a year, from A to Z. That's great, but also brings obligations with it. We are not a one-day fly, and aren't interested in the piecemeal work."

The biggest challenge for the future, according to the Nedalpac manager, is to cooperate with the right suppliers. "The returns on shipments at the source are under pressure. Eventually I'm convinced things will turn around, with growers being able to work for a cost-plus price. It will have to end somewhere, working below the price. I'm a firm believer in specialized chains, those companies have the future."


Docks

In response to the question where vegetables from German greenhouses are competition already, Arnoud says: "First of all, every additional product is competition. I visited various local greenhouse projects, but for now the professionalism and volume of cultivation doesn't reach the Dutch standard yet. Internally, we do debate on whether we should play a part in these local growing initiatives, but for now we aren't working on this pro-actively. In the end, the customer's wishes are leading here as well. I can imagine we at Nedalpac being an intermediary between a German grower and a retailer, why not?"

For more information:
Arnoud van Stralen
Nedalpac bv
Venrayseweg 198
5928 RH Venlo
Tel: 077 – 323 63 33
a.vanstralen@nedalpac.nl
www.nedalpac.nl


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