Less than three months ago, brothers Paul and Henri Schockman and Robbert and Ruud Krul started Freshclusive. This Dutch company focuses on overseas fruit and vegetable exports. Since then, many customers at distant destinations have been supplied with fruit and vegetables from all over the world. "We got off to a flying start, thanks to our clients, suppliers, logistics partners, and especially our partner Scherpenhuizen's support. Things went very much in our favor, and we're very grateful for that," Ruud begins.
Henri, Robbert, Paul, and Ruud
"Freshclusive already consists of a great group of people and varied divisions. There are quite a lot of us, but we need that. We provide many mixed shipments, certainly toward the Middle East, but to other destinations too. We serve customers from A to Z, whether it's five packages or large volumes. That requires plenty of hands in the warehouse."
"And, of course, in the office, too, where we take care of all the administration, global sourcing, and, naturally, the internal processes from start to finish. We've laid a nice foundation in a short time. We've cleverly divided our tasks based on experience, talent, and knowledge. The four of us have gathered a great team of people who believe in our strategy and are as ambitious about it as we are," Ruud continues.
"Half our exports go to the Middle East, about 40% to Asia, and the rest to North America and Africa. Exports to the Americas are noticeably picking up again. Air freight to North America has been challenging for the last two years. But, in the last two weeks, trade's improved slightly. We, obviously, jump on it when the market presents opportunities."
"There too, we provide the best service. The Middle East and Asia are the markets where we genuinely make a difference, and our greatest expertise lies. But Africa has potential too. For example, we export to places like Nigeria and Ghana. Those aren't yet large shipments, but there's a steady stream of products going there," explains Ruud.
Wide product range, endless logistical solutions
Which products make up the assortment's bulk? "Whatever our buyers want," he answers. "We deliver based on what they need, not on our limited supply. For a customer in the Middle East, that may mean we're a one-stop-shop for all global products, but for a retail client in Asia, we supply, say, all the tomato lines."
"We also started right away with organic products in close cooperation with various suppliers. For many exporters, these are more challenging, more complex goods. We, however, don't shy away from them: meeting buyer demand and unburdening them is what drives us; it's up to us to get that done as efficiently as possible,'' Ruud says.
"As far as that's concerned, we go that extra mile for our customers. We handle things, no matter what, and we like the challenge. For instance, we supply resorts in Seychelles and the Maldives directly. Of course, there's a logistical issue every so often - that's unavoidable these days. That has, fortunately, already improved somewhat toward the United States. The Middle East and Asia will hopefully follow soon. We work well with our logistics partners. So we can handle that very well. Here too, we gladly accept the challenge and ensure that our clients lack for nothing."
Ruud thinks Dutch products will always be in demand in far-off destinations. "Dutch greenhouse vegetables have a good reputation. But in the Middle East, for example, they're facing increasing competition from local cultivation. The local growers have higher cost prices. But that region is working hard at becoming self-sufficient, and growers consider it prestigious to grow high-quality products locally."
"Presentation and packaging are also of an increasingly high standard. Dutch growers, therefore, have to continue trying to maintain their reputation, and we're happy to help them do so. We consider it crucial to grow together and partner with growers. We can, thus, strengthen and enrich each other," he explains.
"Our role is increasingly evolving into one of a central hub that connects growers and buyers. If customers ask us for certain products, we look for growers. We want to build lasting relationships. But the same goes for the other way around. Say we find a good melon supplier in South America; then we see whether we can sell those to our clients in Asia or North America."
"With flights all over, the world is shrinking, and there are more and more opportunities. In recent years, there's been a worldwide trend toward increasingly growers sending produce directly to customers. We're using our market knowledge to connect more and more high-quality products all over the world. Isn't that great?" concludes Ruud.