In conversation with Siebe Heus – “Being the Supply Chain Planner for mango is interesting, but not always easy. Communication is crucial.”

17 November 2023

In conversation with Siebe Heus – “Being the Supply Chain Planner for mango is interesting, but not always easy. Communication is crucial.”


Back to the past

Two years ago, Siebe embarked on the final phase of his studies: the graduation research. Farmhouse’s subsidiary, Avor, had a challenge for him. Siebe saw it as an opportunity. “For my thesis, I researched possibilities to reduce food waste concerning avocados. It was super interesting, so I enthusiastically started working on it from day one. I discovered that making oil and guacamole is possible using rejected avocados. The plan I wrote back then is still in use and reduces food waste. Pretty cool, right?”

No mountain is too high.

After his internship, Siebe joined Yex and became the Supply Chain Planner for various products, including mango. “Fortunately, I had already gained experience with avocados. Mangoes and avocados are exciting products but not the easiest. That’s because they are our only exotics that need to ripen. We deal with mixed ripeness with mangoes, which makes the ripening process more complex. Some customers want firm mangoes, others look for triggered mangoes, and still others want a product that is ready to eat. We buy the mangoes hard. This way, we can decide what to do with them. Unfortunately, in reality, we sometimes can’t fill a container. The customer is king for us, so we try to meet each customer’s wish. Another challenge with mangoes is the presence of defects like anthracnose. Once it’s there, it’s better not to ripen the product, or large black spots will appear, making it unsellable. During inspection, inspectors cut open dozens of mangoes to check for ripeness and any defects. This inspection allows us to send high-quality mangoes to our customers.”


Siebe’s days always look different. “My role is extensive. One of my tasks is communicating with the buyer when a particular product arrives. Sometimes, we face challenges despite the purchasing plan because containers may experience delays or arrive faster. It’s my job to solve this. For example, if we receive many containers with a specific exotic within a week, we’ll likely face inventory pressure. By detecting this early, adjusting the plan, and communicating with the sellers, we avoid unexpected problems.” Upon the arrival of mangoes, inspectors immediately inspect the containers. Again, Siebe has an important task. “I must ensure that we maintain a high inventory turnover and allocate the mangoes on a FIFO basis. Additionally, I am responsible for creating the ripening schedule. This schedule involves considering what customers will need the following week. Based on this, I get to work.”

Open communication

In addition to daily tasks, the Supply Chain department deals with various projects related to process optimization. “We’re constantly working on that. It’s crucial for us that everyone is on the same page, from buyer to inspector.” What does that require? Good communication! “Easier said than done. We sometimes face challenges because everyone looks at a situation from their perspective. These challenges can lead to heated discussions. We constantly devise the right solution by holding regular meetings and listening to each other. Additionally, we now use specific lists that clearly state the specification requirements per customer. We make every effort to adhere to these specifications. However, sometimes mangoes may ripen differently than anticipated. What do we do then? We play open cards with the customer! That’s crucial at Farmhouse. Together, we then find a solution. We’ve found that this is the key to success!”

Engaged team

“Despite having our product and responsibilities within the supply chain team, we know what everyone is working on. Once a week, we come together to discuss progress and improvement. Additionally, we support each other in process improvements and share relevant information about the products. All of this makes taking over each other’s tasks much easier. My colleague Tim deals with avocados daily. Because he has a lot of experience with the specific ripening process, he can take over my tasks perfectly when I’m on vacation. And vice versa, of course!”