Five years ago, the Dutch company Altena Potatoes relocated. "That move was the best thing we did. We had too little time and space at the old premises; it was time for a new step. Now, we'll be running double production within a year and have all the facilities to further prepare the company for the future," says Eddy Schouten. At the end of 2021, Eddy took over his uncle Joop's company share. Joop recently retired. Eddy and his father, Kees, now run the business together.
Nathalie and Eddy Schouten with Johan Mans
Johan Mans, who already worked for the company, took over Joop's purchasing role. Johan is no stranger to growers; his father has been an Altena driver for more than 30 years, something Johan, too, did for the past four years. "I've been visiting all those farmers for years. That, obviously, helps," he says.
"Only now, I visit them with a different purpose. I'm delighted with the opportunity I've been given to succeed Joop. It's already an exciting year. The potatoes are selling well, but the growers are waiting, too. The whole market is still anticipating the price's movement a little."
"The year's prospects look good, sales-wise," agrees Eddy. "The drought led to shortages all over Europe. Yields are also lower in the Netherlands, but I'm not disappointed with how many potatoes are leaving. Plus, the old season transitioned smoothly into the new one."
"That's partly because we always have the new Maltese crop early. Altena Potatoes has been importing this specialty for many years in cooperation with companies like Quality Fruits Malta. Volumes were a bit lower last season, but sales went very well. Customers always know where to find us for these firsts," he explains.
Since Altena Potatoes' move, the business has continued expanding its export activities. "We're happy with the new export lines we've added to our existing ones. Larger Agria potatoes are our flagship product. We can serve many of our customers well with this variety. We're also strong in ware and grilling potatoes. It's great to see our potatoes being picked up overseas. Our clients say we offer the best quality, year-round."
Eddy sees a bright future for Altena Potatoes. He and his wife, Nathalie, are making every effort to implement digitization. "Everything here was done on paper. That went well, but it can be much more efficient. Fortunately, we have a young, enthusiastic team that's eager to get these developments off the ground. We have plenty of plans for the future, which we're going to explore further soon," Eddy concludes.