Since May 2015, Ben Bredek has been Kooij Limburg’s new owner. From the existing location in Maastricht, he continues the potato trade. “I’ve always worked in this sector, and so I got in touch with former owner Ton Smeets, who was looking for a successor,” Ben says. He’s been working for a few months now, and trade is also getting started again. “While Ton only did seed and consumption potatoes, I also deal in potatoes for crisps and fries. A logical step, because I want to significantly expand in seedlings. I’m hoping to trade 3000 tonnes of seedlings in the future, and between 15 to 20 tonnes consumption.”
The potato trader works with two permanent truck drivers who mainly collect the potatoes directly from growers’, supplying them carriage free at the clients. The work area spans a region from Brussels to Cologne. The consumption potatoes are mainly sold to clients in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. For destinations farther away, he works with an exporter. In addition to trade, Ben also wants to focus more on advising and coaching. “I want to be an expert partner for the growers, also offering cultivation support. In addition, I have an ambition to come with a local product in the future. There is room for a real Limburg potato, and I think it would be great to be able to promote it. As a wholesaler, I would also be able to stand out with this. I expect there to be a demand for a potato from Limburg.” At the moment, he’s looking for a number of varieties that would be potential candidates for this.
Ben looks to the new potato season with mixed feelings. “It will be very dependent on the plot the potatoes come from,” he explains. “Prices of 12-15 off-land and 16-20 from storage have already been mentioned, but that will probably vary widely per batch. Personally, I’ve seen less good batches with mostly small sizes, but also good batches with larger sizes. The non-irrigated plots you immediately pick off, but there is genuinely a market for good potatoes.”