On 1 January 2021, the new holding Farmhouse International saw the light. How did those first six months go? Have the expectations been met and what do customers and suppliers think of this step? Martijn de Graaf, Managing Director of Farmhouse International, looks back and forward.
Let’s get the facts straight first. The new holding includes Yex (importer of exotics and soft fruit) and the joint ventures SPOT (sweet potatoes), FV SeleQt (fine vegetables) and Avor (avocados). We have been able to shorten the chain by starting joint ventures with growers. That is how we respond to the need of retailers to buy their products from the source. This ensures more transparency about their product, quality, product security and sustainability.
Looking back on the past few months, the first word that comes to mind is pride. Our initiative has been well received by the market, both by growers and customers. We gave several presentations – online and on location – and they always received positive reactions. We notice that the connection between the various companies has become clearer and that our relations see the added value. Of course we still have to work on that, but that makes sense so soon after the start. The start and implementation of such a new holding is an exciting process and it is great fun to work on it with the whole team.
Our Connecting Smiles slogan has also been well received and I am very happy about that. It is our answer to the ‘why question’ and I personally attach great importance to it. Life should be fun and if it isn’t, we should do everything we can to make it as fun as possible. I wish that on everyone: growers, customers and colleagues. Connecting Smiles also turns out to be a nice topic for discussion: it raises questions and invites you to talk to each other and discover what you stand for.
Furthermore, I am very proud of the establishment of Avor and of the focus on sustainability within all companies.
Looking ahead, there are two spearheads that require extra attention in the coming period. Firstly, we will optimise our sourcing plan by strengthening the ties with our growers. We want to be assured of sufficient, food-safe and high-quality products and continue to build together with our growers. A second point of attention is the work-life balance of our employees. We recognise that this is a challenge and we think it is extremely important to improve it. Corona and the mandatory working from home have only made this issue bigger and so it is high on our agenda. The ‘new way of working’ is quite a puzzle and we are happy to help our employees solve it. In any case, it’s good to see that everyone likes to be in the office; that says a lot about the atmosphere!
Apart from that puzzle, we notice that Farmhouse International has also been well received by employees. They clearly see the advantages of the new structure and the cooperation between the companies is improving. Our core value, Be HIP (Happy, Involved & Proud), fits us well and is truly embraced. Employees appreciate that a happy team is important to us and we do a lot about that.
In short, I am extremely proud of our team and our achievements. We have had a great first six months and I hope that we can continue with the same passion for a long time to come!