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Photo report - Agro Merchants Group

"90% of what comes in is reworked in some way"

After a busy Trade Fair on Thursday, visitors to the Amsterdam Produce Show were given the chance to join various industry tours on Friday.

We took the opportunity, and joined the Agro Merchants Group, which started at the Opticool facility. This is located in the Port of Rotterdam on 19,000 square metres, all of which are temperature-controlled. The tour continued with a boat trip into Rotterdam, and through the Port of Rotterdam, before heading up to the stormvloedkering, (sea defences) and finishing off at the ADB Cool Company near the Hook of Holland.

The quayside Opticool facility was built in 1998 and Opticool took it over in 2004.

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"It is cost effective to be directly at the port," explains Antonio Oken, Produce Category Manager, EU, for Agro Merchants group. He goes on to say that CO2 emissions are reduced by moving fruit by sea instead of on the roads. "As well as saving money, timing issues are less of a problem if you are on the water, you can load a barge with 50-60 containers."

"There is a very fast turnaround at the facility. At the moment Spanish tomatoes go very quickly; we empty the room everyday," said Antonio. In one room there are around 1500 pallets of bananas, which according to Antonio, can be on the premises for anything between one hour and 2 days, before going on to ripening rooms in Europe.

"Everything is changing, 10 years ago you only had to repack or relabel 10% of what was coming in, now it the opposite - 90% is reworked in some way. Why is this? The standards of the retailers are getting higher," said Antonio.

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The Agro Merchants Group owns ADB as well as Opticool. It also has ETL, an import and export company which focuses on all kinds of goods.

ADB is not at the quayside so all of the produce comes in in containers. The company can store 20,000 pallets and the new extension came into use a couple of weeks ago, increasing the capacity by 6000. "Everything is done in-house," explains Etienne Vennink, Commercial Manager at ADB. "Quality checks, psytosanitary checks, commercial quality checks, customs clearance, as well as packing and repacking. We also ripen avocados here."

Most types of packing can be done here, the aim is to prepare the client's product ready for retail. "At the moment our 46 different rooms offer lots of flexibility. And we plan for more expansion in the future."

ADB has 46 cooling and freezer rooms, all with the ability to set the temperature between -25°C and 55°C.

Agro Merchant Group owns 55 companies worldwide and it is the company's intention to connect all of those different sites to create a complete supply chain. In Rotterdam the company has around 30,000 pallet spaces.

Click here to see the photo report

For more information:
Antonio Oken
Agro Merchants Group /Opticool
Tel: +31 85 4848 511

Etienne Vennink
ADB Cool Company
Tel: +31 174 63 78 84

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