"Creating added value through flavor and appearance!"

Interview with Stijn Baan, Commercial Director of Koppert Cress B.V.

Koppert Cress Shiso Purple Cress
The most popular product in the range: Shiso Purple Cress

Fresh and healthy herbs in excellent and consistent quality for top gastronomy as well as catering? This is offered by the Dutch company Koppert Cress B.V. The family business from Monster in South Holland cultivates a variety of herbs and edible flowers that delight both the palate and the eye, opening up completely new possibilities for chefs. Always in search of innovations, the herb specialists set new standards and expand the spectrum of culinary design.

"For us, the greatest success is that demand is created through the market," emphasizes Stijn Baan, Commercial Director of Koppert Cress. Thus, top chefs regularly visit the herb experts in Monster to familiarize themselves with different and also unusual flavors and to use them in their kitchens. Once on this path, they naturally ask their suppliers for the corresponding products from Koppert Cress, thus creating the demand mentioned by Stijn Baan.

80,000 Restaurants

"Around 80,000 restaurants use our herbs, although we do not supply them directly," explains Stijn Baan. There are only 80 wholesale businesses that Koppert Cress directly serves. They then sell the herbs and edible flowers on to the end customers, mainly restaurants, catering companies, and lunchrooms.

Stijn Baan, Commercial Director of Koppert Cress B.V.
Stijn Baan, Commercial Director of Koppert Cress B.V.

Three own trucks deliver to customers nearby, while other wholesalers collect their goods at the Monster location. Most customers come from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain. However, there are also some buyers from the Middle East and Asia.

Koppert Cress Shiso Purple Cress
Rich Harvest: Shiso Purple Cress...
Koppert Cress Shiso Green Cress
...and Shiso Green Cress

Fascinating Flavor

It is a fascinating spectrum that the approximately 70 products of Koppert Cress cover. Naturally, this includes a variety of cress types: with the taste of mint and citrus black pepper, fresh peas, or even with the taste of oysters and cucumbers. Other products are anise, jasmine, and apple blossoms, basil, cardamom leaves, and wheatgrass, but also exotic herbs like green and purple shiso leaves, Syrha or Sansho leaves.

"Our products create added value through their taste and decorative appearance," says the Commercial Director. "They are all intended for the gastronomy and are all grown here with us in Monster. And all products receive the same love from us - no matter on which plate they later end up. The focus for us is always on healthy food."

The Right Man

Koppert Cress was founded in the 1980s by Gerard Koppert. Initially, he focused on breeding cress, but over the following years, more products were added. "Later, Gerard Koppert asked my father Rob Baan if he would like to take over the company," explains Stijn Baan. "For three reasons, my father was the right man for it: He likes to travel, he likes to cook, and he knows about plant breeding." Since 2002, the company, which today has 200 employees, is owned by the Baan and Cuppen families, with Rob Baan and Theo Cuppen acting as managing directors.

Koppert Cress Headquarters in Monster
The headquarters in Monster of Koppert Cress B.V.

Tasting Kitchen with Ferrari

"We seek market access through the head chefs," reveals Stijn Baan. "For this, we invite them to Monster to discuss colors, taste, and the versatile uses of our products." But it doesn't stop at discussions. After all, the chefs also need to be convinced of the taste through the combination of various products. Thus, the equipment of the cress experience world 'Cresserie' includes a Molteni Stand IV, the Ferrari among kitchen ranges, of which there are only four examples in the world. To persuade chefs and buyers of the benefits of the herbs, Koppert Cress also presents itself at trade fairs, for example, the Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Digital Analysis

As a highly innovative company, Koppert Cress naturally also utilizes the opportunities presented by digitalization. This not only relates to the control of various technical parameters in the greenhouses in Monster and the search for maximum efficiency – as the cress grows in just 14 days – but also to marketing activities. Stijn Baan: "We need to analyze and steer the markets. For instance, we evaluated photos from Michelin restaurants on Instagram using an algorithm to see if they featured cress. This gives us valuable insights into potential new customers." This unconventional approach consequently won the MOA Award for data analysis – a first for a horticultural business.

Koppert Cress Kyona Mustard Cress
You're welcome! Rob Baan presents Kyona Mustard Cress
Koppert Cress Greenhouse
Modern cultivation on a large scale: A look inside a greenhouse

Excellently Sustainable

Koppert Cress is no less innovative when it comes to sustainability. The company was the first in the Netherlands to switch its lighting completely to LED, operates its own power plant that stores heat in the ground, and aims to work completely CO2-neutral by 2025. And for these endeavors, it has already received a high accolade: in 2016, the company was awarded the Koning Willem I prize for sustainable entrepreneurship. It is these and other factors that make employees proud to work at Koppert Cress. And in the coming years, the team wants to continue working on its mission: Let's change the way we look at food!