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Cauliflower cultivation, trade's future in younger generation's hands

Dutch company opens new warehouse

It has been so in practice for a while but at the festive opening of Fa. P.N. Slagter's new warehouse, it was made official: this Dutch company's future has been passed to the third 'cauliflower growers' hands. Fa P.N. Slagter held a two-day event in North Holland. On Friday, business partners were updated on all the developments, and on Saturday, there was an open day where everyone was welcome to visit the company.

Official opening by three Slagter generations.

Click here for the photo report.

About 70% of the Netherlands' cauliflowers are grown in Westfriesland. Of that, 12% comes from Fa. P.N. Slagter's 180 hectares. To supply supermarket customers year-round, they also get cauliflower from 150 ha of other growers who deliver to Slagter and additional sales and purchases from, say, Spain.

Rolling in it
Founder, Piet Slagter, built a warehouse in 1976, the company's first development. It was dubbed 'Grandpa's barn' and is still fondly referred to as such. He could build it because, in 1976, there was plenty of money to be made, Ton Slagter explains. That year made the history books as a record drought year. Only North Holland had water and thus product.

Ton Slagter

Loving what they do
The second generation, the three brothers, Tom, Nico, and Bas, ensured the second major development. In the 1980s, it became clear that they needed to specialize in cauliflower. The company had been affiliated with the Greenery for many years, but after several years of disagreement, the brothers decided to start doing their own sales. To this day, a good decision. They also started marketing cauliflower for other growers, Ton says.

Click here for the photo report.

The brothers had a clear business plan: by 55, they wanted to be financially independent, deliver quality, handle the land well, never borrow (only for warehouses and land), and above all, love what they do. Thus, they struck out on a bold new path. "Against the flow, Slagters-style, but it all worked out very well," Ton admits.

In 2001, they made another significant investment by building a large addition to Grandpa's barn. That provided space for more loading capacity, refrigeration, dock shelter, and a canteen with office space. That warehouse still meets these requirements and will do for several more years.

Then and now

Everyone's needed
The third generation - cousins Ruud, Pé, Kees, Koos, and Paul - are responsible for the latest development: constructing a new warehouse. It has a 2,000 m2 cooling space, and roof solar panels, including the old barn, generate 700,000 kilowatt hours of power annually. The older generation has taken a step back; only Ton is still active in the background daily; the other brothers stop by now and then for a cup of coffee.

The division of responsibilities has always been organic. Everyone has the chance to use their talents. "Some consider us crazy. But our company's so big that we're all sorely needed. Everyone has their tasks and responsibilities in which we can use their talents," says Ruud, who is responsible for harvesting and, during the season, works bent over alongside the company's laborers in the field.

Ruud Slagter

Fa. P.N. Slagter would, thus, love a cauliflower harvester and has a vision for that. They are pioneers regarding soil use, reducing fertilizer, minimal use of resources, and sustainability.

But, first and foremost, are quality and customer demands. "We're always strong on price, but clients like coming to us because we want to work well with them and deliver quality. We're very client-oriented and can do anything they want, from local greengrocers who take ten boxes to truckloads for supermarkets."

"We offer all kinds of different sizes, from small cauliflower for fresh packets to large ones. And, thanks to our collaboration with other growers, we can also supply romanesco, orange, and purple cauliflower. Everything, according to the customer's wishes," Ruud concludes.

Click here for the photo report.

For more information:
Fa. P.N. Slagter
43 Kadijkweg
1619 PJ, Andijk, NL
Tel: +31 (0) 637 351 433

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