Martijn de Graaf, Managing Director Farmhouse International:
“From customer-supplier relationship towards partnership.”
As of 1 January 2021, Yex and the grower cooperations Avor, SPOT and FV SeleQt fall under a new holding company: Farmhouse International. Why this new structure and what will customers and suppliers notice? Martijn de Graaf, managing director of Farmhouse International, explains.
Retailers increasingly want to buy their products close to the source. They need more transparency about the product and demand product certainty, both in quantity and quality. By shortening the chain through backward integration, we can meet these demands from retailers. That is why we have entered into several joint ventures with growers in recent years. SPOT is a sweet potato specialist with growing locations in North America and FV SeleQt has growing locations for fine vegetables in Africa. On 1 January of this year, the joint venture Avor was added. With Avor we grow avocados on our own locations in South Africa. Together with Yex, importer of exotics and soft fruit, these companies came under the new holding company Farmhouse International on 1 January 2021.
We believe that joint ventures are the way to continue to guarantee good and healthy food chains in the long term. It is profitable for all parties involved. For growers, it is an interesting way to gain access to the European market. And it is reassuring to know that the grower can focus on what he is good at: providing products of the right quality. We offer our growers and customers customised services in the areas of marketing, logistics, ripening, sorting and packaging. Doing business together, that is what it is all about for us. It is no coincidence that our slogan is ‘connecting smiles’. We are going to create happy, involved and proud chains and ensure a smile on the farmland and at the table!
Getting engaged first
For our customers, the advantage of Farmhouse International is that they can be sure of receiving products of the quality they want all year round. We do not enter into such a joint venture overnight; there are many discussions and visits beforehand. We really want to be sure that we share the same vision on topics such as entrepreneurship, quality and sustainability. I sometimes compare entering into a joint venture with getting married: you only do that after you have got to know each other well and have been engaged for a while. In the future, we would certainly like to enter into new joint ventures, but we don’t take any chances. Moreover, it must be a surprising product that has the potential to become big.
The three joint ventures we have entered into are truly part of the Farmhouse family and we call them ‘family growers’. To be able to deliver the best quality all year round, we also work together with a fixed network of partner growers, our ‘strategic growers’. Yex, our importer of surprising exotics and soft fruit, is the fourth family member.
Discovered has always been the consumer brand of Yex, but we will now deploy it broadly for Farmhouse International. With Discovered, we inspire consumers to enjoy surprising fruit and vegetables.
Finally, it is fun to tell where the name Farmhouse International comes from. At the Fruit Logistica in 2019, we had set up a small house at the Yex and Discovered stand, where visitors could meet our growers, our joint ventures. That ‘little house’ was the inspiration for the name Farmhouse. It is also exactly what we want to be and radiate: a place where growers, customers and employees feel at home.