What is really going on over in Amsterdam? Pundit Sister publication ProduceBusinessUK.com laid it out by publishing the Pundit’s comments in the Inaugural Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference Directory:
Being Audacious in Amsterdam
When asked if he had done any kind of market research when planning to launch his Model T, the first mass-produced automobile, it is said that Henry Ford responded, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
It is doubtful he ever really said that, but it doesn’t matter. The idea expressed in the quote is an argument for audacious innovation, a rebellion against cautious incrementalism, and this is what brings us to Amsterdam today. It is what underlies The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference.
Of course, this event is rich with opportunities for commerce, for buyers and sellers to connect and find business opportunities. But in a larger sense, this event is built on more lofty aspirations: It is built on the idea that our personal careers can advance, our businesses can advance and our industry can advance only by a willingness to stand on the shoulders of the people who have built this industry and use this point of vision to see a new and more important industry.
Being audacious… I have been fortunate to live a life immersed in such a character. My great-grandfather, Jacob Prevor, left a long established family produce business outside of Kiev to seek his fortune in America, where he opened a produce wholesaling business in the old Wallabout Market in Brooklyn, New York. At the time, the Wallabout Market was the second largest produce market in the country and was built in the Dutch Colonial revival style to commemorate the Dutch origins of New York — née New Amsterdam — and Brooklyn — née Breuckelen. What can be more audacious than to step on a boat to go to new country that speaks a different language and still believe you can be a success?
My grandfather, Harry Prevor, crossed the East River to move the family business to Manhattan, where he became both a wholesaler of vegetables and an Auction Buyer of repute. Culturally and commercially crossing from Brooklyn to Manhattan was no small journey. It was moving to “the big time,” and the East River seemed as insurmountable an obstacle as the Atlantic Ocean his father had crossed before. To believe you can make it in New York was audacious too.
And my father, Michael Prevor, not only moved the business to the brand new Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, but he was to turn the company into the largest independent exporter in America — including a substantial business into the Netherlands — and a very important importer. He was to open supermarkets, convenience stores, operate farms and run a mail order fruit business, and so much more. With each step teaching this son that the future, though built on the past, is not limited by that past.
That is what we mean when we speak of The Knowledge Centre we have created and the four Knowledge Zones — Innovation, Sustainability, Education and Health, that define our workshops and the show floor. We imagine an industry intertwined with these great objectives, and we believe success in the future belongs to those willing to see an industry integrated with these opportunities and challenges rather than an industry built around simply booking another load.
These ideas go back a long time. Over 30 years ago, the produce industry in America had only two weekly newspapers in circulation, both focused on the production side of the business. We imagined a new, strategic magazine focusing on the marketing, merchandising, management and procurement interests of the trade and dreamed of creating an institution that would not merely report on the trade, but would initiate industry improvement. Thus was Produce Business magazine born.
From that we have spread our wings into adjacent fresh-food industries, with other magazines such as Cheese Connoisseur, Deli Business and Floral Business, and into the internet, with digital publications such as ProduceBusinessUK.com, PerishablePundit.com and PerishableNews.com. Today we also publish ChinaFruitPortal.com in Chinese, PortalFruticola.com in Spanish and the FreshFruitPortal.com in English.
Dedicated to helping the industry improve with all possible tools, we were not satisfied to act on paper and online, but also moved into live events.
In 2010, we launched The New York Produce Show and Conference. It is a unique thought-leadership event that is now the second largest produce event in the Western Hemisphere, yet maintains an intimate atmosphere. The success of the New York event led to the development of The London Produce Show and Conference, which quickly became the largest produce event in the 5th largest economy in the world.
And now we are in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, doing a Dutch twist on these events. Holland is unique. An abundance of skilled businesspeople, great growers, exceptional technology, a secure legal framework and fortuitous geography combine to create a place for an exceptional industry to emerge in the heart of Europe.
This event draws on what we have done in New York and London, but it is completely its own, drawing on a Dutch sense of cool and high technology. We have student programs and media programs; we have culinary programs; and programs for spouses and partners. There is networking and education and commerce, all rolled into one.
Back in 1971, when President Nixon dropped the US Dollar from the Gold Standard, this author was just a small boy, but our house was quickly filled with Dutch produce traders, seeking opportunities in a country whose currency had changed so much.
So even as a boy, I learned that the Dutch were good at sniffing out opportunities.
Now we decided to create an opportunity… and you are present at the creation. As such, you are part of its creation. After all, events are lifeless until the people start participating and making them great.
We are not interested in building faster horses here; we are interested in unleashing great minds and in accessing educated imagination. We are interested in building opportunities for all at this event to create a better tomorrow.
Everyone’s goal here is to bring the fruit of the earth to the people of the world and make the world a better place because of it. And one day, you will tell your grandchildren that you were part of the beginning.
For that, we thank you…and they will as well.
Please join us in building a better industry. Please join us in CelebratingFresh#. Please join us at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference.
You can register online or at the door!
One of the highlights of The New York Produce Show and Conference and The London Produce Show and Conference that we are bringing to Amsterdam is kicking off the day of the show with our “Thought Leaders” panel. The program is intentionally designed this way because before we head off to a trade show, we need to open our minds to new ideas and new ways of doing things. This is especially important at an event such as The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference where the floor is not divided by normal commercial considerations, but, instead, is divided into four Knowledge Centres, with zones focusing on Innovation, Sustainability, Education and Health.
The Inaugural Thought Leaders Panel at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference:
Sr. Director Produce & Floral & Plants
Said Belhassan has been part of Ahold/Albert
Heijn’s management team for 20 years. His experiences have taken him from being a store manager to category manager for various food and non-food items and onto his current position as Senior Director Produce & Floral.
His knowledge of the various aspects of retailing gives Said a unique perspective on ways the produce and floral industry can maximize sales to consumers, and he is currently working on repositioning Albert Heijn’s produce departments to do just that. Current plans are in the works to overhaul most of the Albert Heijn produce departments this year and finishing in 2017, and Said’s love for the global and local nature of the produce industry will be seen in each store.
Said has a Masters Degree in Food Management from EFMI Business School.
Andrei Durnescu is the commercial director of Dalimarcom, based in Chisinau, Moldova. He imports fresh produce for the country’s leading retail chains, specialising in product from Spain, Holland, Turkey, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Egypt and Israel, as well as exports to retail and wholesale customers in Romania, Russia, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey.
Dalimarcom supplies its customers direct from growers’ facilities and works constantly to improve the logistics chain to add value and provide a consistently high quality product.
Karema Fruct SRL
Natalia has worked in food import industry in Romania since 2006, dealing with fish, fruits and vegetables, and has headed up the import division of Karema Fruct for the last 18 months.
Karema Fruct was founded in 2011 by a team of 3 brothers who have now been working in the fresh produce business for 19 years, principally importing fruit and vegetables for the major Romanian supermarket chains.
James P. Lemke
President of Robinson Fresh
C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
As President of Robinson Fresh, Jim Lemke has global oversight of the company’s fresh produce and temperature controlled supply chain activities. Primary responsibilities are to carry out the Robinson Fresh strategy and long-term goals as well as be an active member of the CEO’s leadership and management team that oversees the Enterprise.
Jim was named president of Robinson Fresh in January 2015. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president from December 2007 to December 2014, having served as vice president, sourcing since 2003. Prior to that time, he served as the vice president and manager of C.H. Robinson's Corporate Procurement and Distribution Services branch. Jim joined the company in 1989.
A logistics and fresh produce industry veteran, Jim is the current chairman of the United Fresh Start Foundation, and a member of the Fresh Executive Committee for the Food Marketing Institute. Jim is a passionate advocate for increasing kids’ access to fruits and vegetables and recently announced Robinson Fresh’s campaign, Kids Speak Fresh.
Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Minnesota.
Former Senior Vice President and
General Merchandise Manager
of Perishables for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Bruce is the former Senior Vice President of Perishables at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and a 45-year veteran in the produce industry. He started his food-industry career bagging groceries in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan in 1970, later working for several notable supermarket chains, and owning and operating a wholesale produce company. He joined Wal-Mart as Produce Director in 1991 and spent 17 years with the company, during which time Bruce saw the company grow from six Supercenters to more than 2,300, 117 Neighborhood Markets, and establish 42 food distribution centers. He is now President of Peterson Insights, Inc., a consulting company helping fresh food companies successfully navigate through a wide variety of complex challenges.
Dr. John L. Stanton
Professor and Chairman
Food Marketing Department
Saint Joseph’s University
John L. Stanton has a Ph.D. in Quantitative Methods and Marketing from Syracuse University, and has been in the food industry for over 30 years. Besides academia, Dr. Stanton has held executive positions and conducted extensive consulting work globally for leading national and multinational food companies on both the supplier and retailer side.
Dr. Stanton has run ground-breaking seminars at food associations across the globe and also worked with many commodity agriculture groups. Dr. Stanton is widely published, including two new books Winning Marketing Strategy and Precision Target Marketing. Dr. Stanton is currently the editor of the Journal of Food Products Marketing, and an editorial advisor of the British Food Journal.
Timothy E. York
Markon Cooperative Inc.
Markon is a purchasing, marketing, and logistics cooperative serving North America’s leading independent foodservice distributors. It distributes produce to more than 70 facilities in the U.S. and Canada.
Tim has nearly 40 years’ experience in the produce and foodservice industries. He began his career in 1977 at H. Hall & Company, a grower/shipper of strawberries and mixed vegetables. He joined Markon in 1985 as purchasing director, and was named president in 1990. His numerous industry positions include chairman of Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Division (1994-1996), and chairman of the Produce Marketing Association (2002-2003), and member, USDA Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Council. He is currently on the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s board of directors.
Tim was instrumental in bringing buyers and sellers together in 1996 to address the food safety crisis and in the formation of the Center for Produce Safety, which he chaired from 2007-2012. He remains involved in several multi-stakeholder collaboratives working on food safety, food waste, sustainability, and environmental protections.
This is an intellectual tour de force including the leading retailer in the region, a man who has transformed what supply chain management actually means, a man who built the largest retail produce program on earth, a man who revolutionized produce procurement for foodservice while helping the industry to think about food safety and sustainability in whole new ways, an academic who, literally, wrote the book on marketing food and two key players from Eastern Europe who are able to bring a breath of innovation to the conversation.
The panel starts 7:30 AM at Westergasfabriek, there is free parking and continuous looping buses from both the Amsterdam Hilton and Central Station.
Come and be a part of the conversation.
You can register here to avoid lines, but you can also register at the event.
The issue of food waste is top of mind for many now. Indeed in many iterations of The London Produce Show and Conference and The New York Produce Show and Conference, scholars have addressed the issue in seminars and workshops such as these:
Solution To Food Waste? Italian Professor Proposes Getting Consumers And Retailers To Disregard Cosmetic Standards When Selecting Produce
Can Labeling Impact Food Waste? Is Zero Waste The Optimal Standard? Cornell’s Brad Rickard To Present New Research At The London Produce Show And Conference
UNIVERSITY HEAVYWEIGHT PUTS SCIENCE BEHIND OPTIMIZED GLEANING SCHEDULES: Cornell’s Miguel Gómez Talks About How The Produce Industry Can Put Itself On The Side Of The Angels By Reducing Food Waste While Helping The Hungry
What’s in A Word? Sell By, Use By, Best By And Fresh By.Can A Word Alter Food Waste Significantly? Cornell’s Brad Rickard Speaks Out
So with The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference fast approaching, we heard about a new approach Albert Heijn is supporting that just might make a difference. So we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to find out more:
Instock, an innovative food rescue project to combat food waste, operates through a partnership with Albert Heijn Supermarkets, where food waste is collected from its retail stores and incorporated into menus at Instock restaurants and take-away locations in Amsterdam, and more recently in the Hague, while an Instock food truck serves street food at festivals and events. Instock was founded by four former colleagues who worked together at Albert Heijn, and is supported by the leading retailer’s board of directors.
Instock collects all its fruits, vegetables and bread designated as food waste from Albert Heijn Supermarkets in Amsterdam, and works with other vendors in the supply chain for its meats, fish, drinks, and other sustainable resources. “We call ourselves a social corporate enterprise. We’re a foundation with two goals, first to reduce food waste, and second to re-invest any profit back to Instock and sustainable projects,” says Selma Seddick, an Instock co-founder, at the grand opening this summer of the first Instock restaurant in the Hague.
Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS had a chance to connect with Jan Ernst de Groot, chief legal officer and member of the executive committee at Royal Ahold Delhaize, during the Instock launch in the Hague. “We are the linchpin to educate our customers and to help address the serious problem of food waste,” he says. “One billion people around the world go hungry. This is not only wasteful but unethical,” he says. “Our retail brands serve millions of customers in the U.S. and in Europe, and we have a platform to make a difference,” he explains, adding, “Superfluous food in the stores can be rejected because it looks ugly. Instock was created by our own associates to rescue this food, and to look at the problem with different eyes, and now we support them,” he says.
“An electric food rescue truck goes around Amsterdam to the different stores and collects the rejected produce because of shelf life or appearance, but it is still perfectly edible,” says Seddick. “Working for Albert Heijn, we saw a lot of waste and wanted to take action,” she continued, describing the problem she and her associates witnessed as the impetus to start Instock, adding, “We are very lucky to work with Albert Heijn.”
Instock collaborates closely with Albert Heijn to resolve logistical issues. “A big challenge is to train employees in Albert Heijn on how to select and sort the items,” explained Esther Slelwagen, day manager at the Instock restaurant in Amsterdam, during a separate visit.
The restaurant menus change constantly, as chefs are challenged to spontaneously create dishes based on what food waste is rescued each day,” she explains, noting patrons can also purchase products at the restaurant to prepare at home, such as zucchini, cucumber, tomato soups, and a mushroom farm kit.
“We make our own beer from surplus potatoes, and we brew it in local breweries. The granola is made from the grain at the end of the beer process,” says Seddick. Chefs have to be resourceful and highly flexible. “In a regular restaurant, chefs have a set menu and can prepare in advance. Here, the chefs don’t know what they’re getting each day, so they combine elements that work really well together and develop new flavors,” she says.
Instock’s food rescue concept, while in its infancy, has great potential, according to Jan Ernst de Groot of Royal Ahold Delhaize. “Instock serves as an eye-opener for building innovative strategies to reduce global food waste.”
This is not the first time we heard of supermarkets culling their own shelves and back rooms for produce to donate. A piece that was done on Kroger and another on Price Chopper, in Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, for example detailed that chain’s efforts to donate produce in this manner.
In this case, however, Instock is a specialized chain of food trucks and restaurants built to use this product.
It is all very interesting, but we will see how the economics work out.
There is a risk on the supermarket side that employees, anxious to do good, may give away produce that could have been sold.
Another issue is that many supermarkets are now using this exact selection of produce in their in-store prepared foods operation. If the avocado is getting soft, it can be donated, or a store can make guacamole. As stores try to capitalize on what is really a kind of “free” source of ingredients, it is not clear that the amount of produce available for such donations won’t decline.
And there is the whole cost of collecting and repurposing these items. The produce supply chain is very efficient. One big California-based shipper happens to have an affiliated operation in the Midwestern US. Many East Coast buyers want the product, thinking that it is more local than the California product. Yet, very often the cheapest way to distribute that product is to have a full trailer of the Midwest product brought out to California where pallets of the product can be added to full loads going out to the Eastern retailers! So having to send vans and trucks to pick up product from every store may not be efficient at all.
Will consumers want to support restaurants and food trucks that are promoted as using this product? Maybe — many people may feel good about avoiding food waste. But others may think it is less sanitary or just may want a more predictable menu.
This is a unique effort to do something good for the world. We wish them every good fortune in this endeavor and salute Albert Heijn for trying to make it work.
With a major focus on health at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference it was important to throw the exercise part of the health equation into the mix, so we were pleased to integrate two super elite athletes into the event.
Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS UK, highlighted Olympic champion speed skater Bart Veldkamp in a piece titled Olympic gold-medallist on his marks for Amsterdam show:
Bart was world champion in marathon skating, and won gold medals at the Olympics, beating the legendary Johan Olav Koss in the 10 km race in Albertville in 1992. He is a television presenter/analyst/commentator, and is very well known as motivational speaker. Bart is currently developing a health bar, containing only fruit/vegetables/nut/seeds.
Bart will be visiting stands, talking to the chefs during demonstrations, giving interviews to journalists and signing autographs.
And he won’t be alone.
Also at the event: ELLEN HOOG an active pro hockey player and Multiple world and Olympic champion
Whose slogan is: "You are what you eat and what you do!" is Ellen's life slogan. She wrote a book about fitness, food and working out. John Aeillo is a Contributing editor at Pundit Sister Publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS and he interviewed Ellen to get a sense of her relationship with fresh fruits and vegetables:
Q: Why did you choose to participate in the Amerstadam Produce Show as an event ambassador?
A: Healthy foods and sports go hand in hand. I have played field hockey at the highest level since the age of 17, so a healthy and nutritious diet was essential [to me]. The longer I played at this level, the more it became apparent that good nutrition was necessary to stay at the top. I got interested in food and learned a lot from books and research. I also learned that I love vegetables and love to cook with fresh products and I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. When APS16 approached me to be an event ambassador, I didn’t hesitate to accept. I really look forward to the show and all the beautiful produce!
Q: Can you briefly discuss how you became interested in field hockey?
A: My parents and both my brothers played field hockey since as long as I can remember, so I was always walking around at the local club when they were playing. I couldn’t wait to get started myself when I turned seven.
Q: When did you start playing competitively?
A: I was 12 years old when I got selected for the national U16 team and 17 years old when I played my first official match for the Dutch National Team.
Q: What would you identify as your greatest achievement in the sport?
A: I’m very proud of my two golden Olympic medals - Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Q: Are you still competing?
A: I am retired as international player, but I’m still competing in the Dutch field hockey competition for my club Amsterdam H&BC.
Q: What is your diet like as a competitive athlete and do you incorporate much fresh produce into it?
A: I don’t really follow a diet, but I always want to eat healthy and as natural as possible. I avoid refined sugars and always try to eat fresh, organic produce. I know exactly what kind of foods my body needs right before an important match to get the energy I need. I also understand what I need right after a training session to recover as fast as possible.
Q: Do you have any favorite or go-to fruits and vegetables?
A: When I travel, I’ll always bring my delicious chickpea salad. When I am on a long flight [it helps me] avoid the airplane food.
Q: About how many calories do you consume daily in relation to how many calories you burn during a typical training session?
A: I can honestly say that I have never calculated the amount of calories I eat in a day. When I was part of the Dutch National Team squad, we trained sometimes up to 12 times a week. On top of that, we played matches - so you can imagine that we’d burn plenty of calories. }But ultimately], I listen to my body. When I feel that it needs more energy, I give it more fuel. And the other way around as well.
Q: Can you outline a typical day's menu - breakfast through dinner, including snacks?
A: I start the day with a porridge, or some homemade granola with fruits, seeds and nuts. A couple of hours later, I will make myself a green smoothie. For lunch, I often eat wraps with things like lentils, vegetables and goat cheese. Then a snack or a sandwich, with avocado spread. And for dinner I like to make a pasta or a soup.
Q: Do you drink socially, or is alcohol a forbidden commodity on your program?
A: I drink sometimes, especially after a tournament, in order to celebrate. And I love my glass of wine during dinner.
Q: Obviously, you stay on a strict dietary regiment. But do you ever pick a day to cheat, to just throw out the calorie counter so you don't always feel like you're denying yourself?
A: Of course! I pretty much always eat very healthy, but from time to time I will indulge myself in a guilty pleasure.
Q: To this end, are there any produce items that you'd like to dip into a fondue pot or into melted chocolate?
A: And fresh and raw vegetables into a cheese fondue pot! I love cheese fondue! And perhaps some nuts to dip into the chocolate.
Q: Do you shop for your own food or use on-line services like Amazon Fresh?
A: I always buy my food at the local organic supermarket, or at local specialty delicacy stores. I never use an online service.
Q: What stores do you frequent for your food?
A: Organic supermarkets.
Q: Why these places?
A: In these stores I find everything I need.
Q: Over the last 20 years, there has been a big push in the marketing of organic fruits and vegetables. Do you buy organic? If so, why is it important to you?
A: Yes. I prefer organic food. To me it tastes better, it gives me energy, and it’s healthier. When I can avoid pesticides and/or preservatives, I always do.
Q: Your book "In Perfect Condition” (Carrera publishers) shows that you have made the way you eat and take care of your body a real lifestyle and not just something you have to do to excel at athletics. What message do you want the reader to take from your writing?
A: I want to inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle. I try to motivate them to exercise and eat healthy, but also to enjoy. So the recipes are healthy and quite easy to make/ And there’s also room for some guilty pleasures. You don’t need anything for the workouts, so you can exercise in your living room. Besides the recipes and the workouts, I also give some tips about combining nutrition and sports.
Q: Any plans for another book?
A: Not yet. I have just published my second book “Grenzeloos Gezond”. It is a book that will take you an a trip around the world and it will take you to all the countries that I have been to while traveling with the Dutch National Hockey team, or [have traveled to while] on vacation with my boyfriend.
Q: If you had to advise a middle aged person embarking on an exercise program, what would you say? And what diet modifications would you recommend?
A: Listen to your body! Don’t overdo things. Try to set the bar high, but it’s better to raise the bar each time, than to set it too high in the beginning. I'd also tell them to enjoy food, but to also be conscious of what you put into your body. Plus, I'd say that rest is equally important! Try to sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night.
Q: I understand you lost your father to cancer at a relatively young age when you were just starting to enter serious competitive athletics. How has this motivated you? And has the thought of his illness altered the way you eat and take care of your body?
A: His loss has motivated me to always work hard to achieve my goals. He always wanted me to do things I am passionate about, so that’s what I do. He was very enthusiastic about my sports career and I think he’d be proud of what I’ve achieved so far.
Part of The Amsterdam Produce show and conference is very serious, it is commercial engagement and deep learning, but life is too short to not havea little fun, so come meet and great Bart and Ellen and come and celebrateFresh#.
You can sign up at the door or skip the lines by registering here.
This past summer Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott came to the Netherlands to check things out as a chance to gain context for The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference. She learned she was there for “Cucumber Time” and that the name was being used as an excuse for a promotion and that it was all designed to help boost consumption. We asked Mira to find out more:
Dutch Parliament is back in session. Getting government buy-in to promote and bolster fresh produce consumption amid conflicting political forces and competing industry interests presents challenges, according to Wilma van den Oever, communications manager at GroentenFruit Huis/Fresh Produce Centre, which represents Holland’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, headquartered in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands.
“That is why it was a salient event this summer when Martijn van Dam, our State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Netherland’s Minister of Agriculture in Brussels and abroad, surprised his constituents by giving away bushels of fresh cucumbers and other vegetable snacks outside the Parliament building in the Netherland’s preeminent government square, het Plein in the Hague.
The event ironically foreshadowed “Action Time” proposals in the works this fall to increase produce consumption, while kicking off Komkommertijd, which in other countries is called Silly Season. In other words, it was “Cucumber Time” or the dog days of summer when Parliament recesses with no meetings for six to eight weeks and there is little news to report because politicians and many others are on holiday. Yet cucumbers are harvested in the summer, and in the produce world, there is plenty of action with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables hitting their prime.
“F.A. Stoett defines the cucumber time as a slack time in the summer months when few things are done, and the market in general is not very lively, but there are lots of cucumbers!” says van den Oever, noting, the origins of Cucumber Time are not definitive but are rich in British and German allegories.
Left to right: Gert Mulder, Martijn van Dam, Jos van Mil
Intent to capitalize on this produce double entendre, GroentenFruit Huis teamed up with the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, a department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and several GroentenFruit Huis pro-active produce supplier members.
Left to right: Martijn van Dam, Rob Baan, Gert Mulder, Gerda Feunekes, Silvia Janssen-Voorbij
Participants included Gert Mulder, CEO, Fresh Produce Centre/GroentenFruit Huis; Jos van Mil, marketing and sales director at Greenco Packing BV; Rob Baan, director at Koppert Cress; Gerda Feunekes, executive director at Voedingscentrum, The Netherlands Nutrition Centre; and Silvia Janssen-Voorbij, manager GMO & finance, Cooperation Kompany U.A., a leading cooperative of cucumber growers.
Martijn van Dam, a strong proponent of increasing produce consumption, was the brainchild behind the collaborative Cucumber Time event, according to van den Oever. Van Dam joined industry executives to promulgate the benefits of fresh produce at the makeshift produce market stands set up in the big government square, passing out cucumbers, snack tomatoes and little sweet peppers outside het Binnenhof, the official name for the building for the House of Representatives of the Netherlands. [The Dutch Parliament, called the States General, consists of two chambers, The Senate and the House of Representatives.]
In the spirit of Komkommertijd in the Netherlands, I ventured on a train from Amsterdam to Zoetermeer, via the Hague, to catch Wilma van den Oever, communications manager at the GroentenFruit Huis/ Fresh Produce Centre, right before she was heading out for her holiday break. It would not be long before she would return to a packed agenda covering a range of sector issues — “It’s not only about opening new markets, but dealing with the problems of markets closing… and strategizing innovative ways to help our members increase produce consumption.”
“About our history,” she explains, “two years ago, the Dutch Produce Association and Frugi Venta looked to form this organization Fresh Produce Centre (FPC) or GroentenFruit Huis. On January 1, 2016, we officially merged the two organizations to speak with one voice on behalf of the fruit and vegetable sector. We were slowly growing. We now have 400 members.” Those members include importers, exporters, wholesalers and producer organizations, but not retailers or foodservice providers.
“The Dutch Produce Association still has a part with subsidies from Brussels. EU member states pay in to Brussels, and it is only possible to receive money if recognized by the EU Growers Organization,” she says, adding, “An independent grower cannot go there.”
GroentenFruit Huis is steadfast in building alliances and intersecting causes with a broad range of government and private entities from healthcare to NGOs, to education, science, and retail to address sector challenges and to partner on various projects. “We are working together with many organizations, including those in the health field and restaurants to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.”
“Last year, we were focusing on getting more organizations around the table. We all have the same goal to increase produce consumption for different reasons. There is the business aspect and the health aspect…,” she continues. “We also want to get supermarkets involved. The fresh produce department is the biggest moneymaker. Together we can have an impact.”
Produce consumption remains an issue in The Netherlands, as it does in the U.S. and many other countries. “Here in the Netherlands, the guidelines for produce consumption are 250 grams of vegetables a day and two pieces of fruit,” says van den Oever. However, “only two percent of adults in the Netherlands eat this amount. [See report, We Eat Less Vegetables Than We Think].
The guidelines in the Netherlands for vegetables used to be 200 grams based on World Health Organization recommendations, but in the Netherlands, the recommendation increased to 250 grams directed by Voedingscentrum, the Netherlands organization paid by the government to inform consumers about good food, according to van den Oever. There has been consumer research that shows people do not know how much that is; they are unable to assess or measure what 250 grams equals, she explains.
Produce is traditionally not a mainstay in the Dutch diet, according to van den Oeover. “People in the Netherlands are used to eating three times a day and snack on yogurt and sweets. Only in the evening, we eat vegetables for dinner. In this scenario, we will never reach the recommended guidelines,” she laments.
“In many restaurants in the Netherlands, you choose meat or fish, a side of potato or French fries, and something green for decoration. We see a lot more chefs taking vegetables into a leading role on the plate — the 80 percent/20 percent shift, where vegetables are the majority of the dish,” she says, adding, but this is not typical.
There are many initiatives focused on the platform of healthy eating for kids up to 4 years old. Organizations such as Wageningen University, and hospitals in Rotterdam play a part. The City of Rotterdam is also involved.
“We organize a Vegetable Congress, connecting our members with people from healthcare and other areas, to figure out what we can do to help increase consumption at home, in schools, through childcare, etc., and how to make the right products, and make them more attractive.”
Giving out free cucumbers and vegetable snacks outside of Parliament to announce Cucumber Time resets an otherwise slow news cycle and tells a story of how vegetables are good for lunch or a snack instead of chocolate, and educates and encourage people to eat more produce, according to van den Oever. The goal now is to build on that news angle with initiatives that are more sustainable.
“We as an organization are in contact with our Ministry and getting closer to a solution, which involves the start of a special project to increase produce consumption,” she previews. “An action plan is in development, which will include government money and matching funds from sector companies,” she says, adding, “We are also working on bringing in retailers.”
The pace of change can sometimes be slower than desired, despite Cucumber Time’s seasonal duration. “We hoped to have things rolling more quickly after the holidays in September, but it always takes more time to get programs like this implemented,” she says, excited by the prospects.
“Hopefully, we’ll have more to share on that front at The Amsterdam Produce Show in November,” says van den Oever, adding, “I think the Netherlands deserves The Amsterdam Produce Show. It will be the first time for such an event, and a good outlet to help increase produce consumption.“
Strides have been made in plans to boost consumption. In fact we have a panel, at the show, specifically focused on that, you can read about the panel here.
The key factor is that it can’t all be on the producers of fruits and vegetables. Many of the benefits of increased produce consumption, such as healthier people and lower medical costs, are benefits that do not rebound to farmers. So we need to find a way to support these efforts that won’t burden farmers.
This means it is especially important to undertake efforts that we can confirm achieve things. We have to conduct programs in such a way that the results are verifiable and persuasive to people who don’t care about selling more produce. This means control groups, explorations into health outcomes and much more.
Come to the Amsterdam Produce show and Conference and join the exploration of these issues. You can register online or at the door.
Whenever you deal with people outside your own country, you have to find ways to bridge cultural divides. Try and do business in Japan and you can easily think you are doing great but nothing will ever happen — this is because the Japanese simply won’t say no. It is not the way they do things. In contrast, the Dutch could be considered the anti-Japanese. They are so forthright and blunt.
To an American or Brit, it can come off as offensive – though no offense is intended. In time, we came to appreciate this character trait; it lets you know where you stand. It means you don’t waste time. We also learned it is just a clear expression of how someone stands at the moment. Over time, we have found our Dutch friends are actually quite flexible – adjusting their firmly stated positions to new information.
We sent Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to see what nuances of communication she could glean in Holland:
Fasten your seatbelts, or more pointedly, shift your bicycle gears and cultural mores for the launch of The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference, November 2-4 in Holland, which promises to be a unique, dynamic ride. [All the while, watch out for speeding cyclists — the Netherlands has more bikes than people, including energetic, health-conscious produce executives routinely peddling to work and racing toward a competive edge.]
For newcomers to the Dutch culture, or attendees being reaquainted with it, gleaning insight into the nuanced social and business sensibilities could help jumpstart and cement strategic partnerships, and avoid some unfortunate communication mishaps. In an enriching pre-Show visit to Holland to meet with produce industry leaders and explore and report on the exciting and important things to do and know, a reoccuring, playful phrase resonated amid my travels: “There’s a Dutch saying...”, the conversation would go, proceeded by a colorful anecdote and wink to a valuable piece of advice, or an intuitive understanding.
One industry executive in particular seemed to master the art of provocative proverbial recitation so vibrantly and humorously, I felt an overwhelming desire to share his favorite Dutch sayings to inspire attendees. In fact, Nic Jooste, a partner, and director of marketing, corporate communication for Dutch importer-distributor Cool Fresh international, headquartered in Ridderkerk, The Netherlands, is actually South African, further informing his perspective.
DUTCH NICKNAMES: (Left) Nic Jooste, Director of Marketing, Corporate Communication at Cool Fresh International. His informal fun moniker in the office is 'Vliegende Kip' - directly translated 'Flying Chicken'. This is a Dutch title for a person who does many different jobs. In English it could also be 'general dogsbody', 'gofer', 'grunt' or lackey'.
(In the middle) Karel van der Linde, Retail Executive who runs the firm’s retail programs across Europe, using his official name!
(Right) Paul van Douwen - Commercial Executive. His job is split 50/50 between servicing clients all over Europe, and managing import programs for avocados, pomegranates and dates. Of Paul, associates say he is 'Het zonnetje in huis'. Translated literally, 'Paul is the sun in our house'. This means he is always happy and smiling, and brings joy into everyday life.
Amsterdam Produce Show exhibitors will both come from Holland and far away — South Africa, Peru, America, Israel, etc. Speakers will be heavy to Holland, with an international presence as well. On the buyer side, there will be a lot of people from the Benelux countries. We also will have buyers from across Europe, America, Asia, etc., much as we do at our New York and London Produce Shows. But the Amsterdam Produce Show will definitely have its own identity!
Dutch sayings to ponder (courtesy of Nic Jooste):
‘Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg’
Dutch people like normalcy.The Dutch expression ‘Doe Normaal’ roughly translates to “just be normal!” So, just what does “being normal” actually mean in the Netherlands? Well, the easiest way to define acceptable normal Dutch behavior is to list the biggest offenders of non-normalcy. They are, in no particular order:
2. Showing off or acting pretentious
3. Discussing money (or how much you have)
4. Showing a little too much personality
5. Showing overt public displays of anger or emotion
6. Not following the ever-important rules and regulations
7. Acting or being anything else perceived to be “weird”, “different” “disobedient” or “foreign”
When asked to define the Dutch character, 9 out of 10 Dutch people will quote the following saying:Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg. Translation: just act normal, that’s already crazy enough!!
‘Ik doe het met twee vingers in de neus’
Literally it means being able to do something “with two fingers in your nose”. This informal expression says that something is very easy for you to do. For instance: ‘The Dutch can solve logistics problems with two fingers in the nose’.
This is a model of negotiation in which the parties keep on negotiating until consensus is reached. The polder model has been described as "a pragmatic recognition of pluriformity" and "cooperation despite differences.”
One explanation of this term refers to a unique aspect of the Netherlands, that it consists in large part of polders, (land reclaimed from the sea), which requires constant pumping and maintenance of the dykes. So ever since the Middle Ages, when the process of land reclamation began, different societies living in the same polder have been forced to cooperate because without unanimous agreement on shared responsibility for maintenance of the dykes and pumping stations, the polders would have flooded and everyone would have suffered. Crucially, even when different cities in the same polder were at war, they still had to cooperate in this respect.
This is thought to have taught the Dutch to set aside differences for a greater purpose. The current Dutch polder model is said to have begun with the Wassenaar Accords of 1982, when unions, employers, and government decided on a comprehensive plan to revitalize the economy involving shorter working times and less pay on the one hand, and more employment on the other. This polder model, combined with a neoliberal economic policy of privatization and budget cuts, has been held to be responsible for the Dutch economic miracle of the late 1990s.
‘Door de zure appel bijten’
Literally: finish eating the sour apple. This means that you have to go through something difficult or uncomfortable, in any case for the moment. Afterwards it will get better…..
‘Uit je neus zitten eten’
Literally: the process of nose picking and consuming the harvest. Meaning: sitting and doing nothing.
‘De kool en de geit willen sparen’
Translated literally: ‘Saving the cabbage AND the goat’. It means keeping everybody happy, especially as it relates to parties with conflicting interests. In English: Run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
How do these Dutch sayings and the underlying meanings compare to those adages passed through generations at the myriad countries being represented at the Amsterdam Show? Jooste points to “cultural grand canyons” between certain countries and generations and the need to adapt and distinguish strategies based on those schisms. However, he argues a major exception is Generation Z, the cohort following the Millennials, raised in the Internet and social media craze, which has created a global cultural commonality, acknowledging, “Reaching young people requires a different mindset, and for many of us, communicating in a foreign way.”
One thing is certain, uniting in person and generating first-hand connections at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference will go a long way to bridging communication and cultural gaps. Get ready to emmerse yourself in innovation, meet intriguing people, and tap into unchartered business opportunities and diverse, burgeoning markets. Exchange ideas with the produce industry movers and shakers to capitalize on the greatest industry thruway for global fresh fruit and vegetable trade in the heart of Europe.
If we forget about Antarctica – we have industry members from every continent at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference. Yet the whole concept is intimate. People come for the Opening cocktail reception, they stay at the Amsterdam Hilton, they see the same people at the bar, at the gym, in the hotel restaurant. They sit at the breakfast together, go to seminars and workshops together, interact at the trade show and chef demos, enjoy a free evening together and go on tours together.
It is the kind of quality of interaction that leads to, well, understanding and that leads to business and to friendship.
So come join us in Amsterdam, to network, to learn, to do business and to #CelebrateFresh
You can register on the link right here or at the door. Don’t forget the Opening Cocktail Reception tonight at 6:30pm and the Opening Thought Leader Breakfast at 7:30am on Thursday. Tours depart the Amsterdam Hilton between 7:30 and 8:00 AM on Friday.
See you at the Opening Cocktail Reception!