Belgian Retailer Expands Partnership with Potato Growers
Belgian retailer Colruyt Group has announces that, since 18 September, Colruyt and Okay supermarket chain customers are able to buy potatoes resulting from a close partnership with 16 local growers.
The agreement involves the Boni Selection Friet (for French Fries) and Everyday Zachtkokend (Floury potatoes) in bags of 5 kg. The new potato harvest is the culmination of a pilot project set up last year, in order to achieve a more constant quality, guarantee a stable price for growers and extend the potato season in Belgium. “This successful test illustrates that a relationship of trust has developed between the various partners in which they share their knowledge and experience with each other,” the Belgian retailer says in a press release.
Last year’s pilot project has lived up to expectations, according to the retail company. Ronny Neufkens, head of the Colruyt Group’s vegetable purchasing department: “However, 2017-2018 was a particularly difficult season, partly due to the warm weather and partly due to oversupply. Together we managed to extend the Belgian potato season by one month, before switching to imported potatoes. In addition, we have also been able to guarantee a stable price to our nine partner suppliers.”
During the testing period, the potatoes were sold in 78 Colruyt shops. Due to the positive results, it was decided this season to offer them at all the Colruyt and OKay shops in Belgium, that is more than 370 shops in total. In order to make this happen, a further seven growers have joined the project this year.
The early potatoes were planted between March and May in sandy/sandy loamy soils in Flanders, while the late varieties were planted in sandy loam/loamy soils in Wallonia. Cultivation is closely monitored by specialized cultivation supervisors.
Colruyt Group is the first Belgian distributor to have set up this kind of partnership with local potato growers. In the past, growers hardly ever had direct contact with supermarket chains. In this project however, they sit around the table together and share their knowledge. This has enabled them to select the varieties best suited for the local soil types and to make agreements about quality. “This partnership has proved even more valuable since we were confronted with an extreme drought last summer”, explains Ronny Neufkens. “By helping each other, cooperation has only become stronger.”