“We import nuts, pine nuts, olives, fruit, tomatoes and much more from 34 countries,” says Cees Quekel, member of the Management Team at Felix Cohen BV and one of the shareholders of its parent company Health Food Group Holding BV. “Our specialty is blending nuts, dried fruits, mueslis: private label blends as well. Healthy products, without additives. And we also provide specialties for niche markets.”
As an example of such a niche, to a major producer of pizzas, Felix Cohen supplies everything except the dough: the tomato paste, olives, artichokes, capers, fresh green peppers, tips of asparagus. To fresh salad producers, the company supplies ingredients like roasted pine nuts.
The blends of nuts and fruits constitute 60% of the company’s turnover, while 40% is made in olives, olive oil and tinned products. Until recently, Felix Cohen was strictly B2B, supplying wholesale clients for the horeca branch with large batches of at least 5 to 6 l or kg of nuts, dried tropical fruits, tinned fruit, olives and olive oil and sweeteners that are used in products like chocolate, nut & fruit blends or cereal bars.
Nuts, blends and sweeteners are also supplied to industrial clients like bakeries, for instance hazelnuts for the fine bakery or chocolate industry, and currants for the bread industry. In addition, Felix Cohen provides packaged muesli blends for horeca wholesalers, or muesli in bulk to the packaging industry.
Private label blending is warmly welcomed by the company’s clients as well. The products are blended by hand and clients recognise the company’s great assortment, flexibility, speed, hiqh quality and high service level as unique features.
“There is a lot of manual labour in mixing and packagin our blends,” explains Mr. Quekel. “There are not many companies left who can offer this, because it requires a lot of inhouse expertise and a kind of artisanship.”
Felix Cohen has all ingredients in stock, and blends and packages on demand to its clients’ specification, even in small batches when required. Even topping cups with a granola blend to complement yoghurt products are possible.
The company’s new owners will expand this already wide range of options and provide it on a larger scale. Another novelty is that Felix Cohen is now introducing a B2C brand called Hugo Nuts. It will be available through retail clients who focus on healthy products, such as Holland & Barrett.
“Retail is a new market for us and we are excited to introduce our Hugo Nuts range in the Benelux and Germany,” says Mr. Quekel. “There is a lot of interest in our products among B2C webshops, so now we are introducing smaller packages and choosing special blends with selected retail clients.”
Currently, some 20% of the company’s 17 million EUR turnover is exported, mainly to Belgium, France and Germany. This is another aspect of the business that is on the brink of expansion, as the company is hiring salespeople in Germany. The future is looking bright, as more and more consumers are interested in healthy breakfast products and healthy snacks.
Felix Cohen is aiming to expand its turnover to 25 million EUR, with about 10 to 12% growth per year. Plans are to expand its assortment in nuts and nut blends with a new blend introduced every two months, and to set up a product line with canned niche products, such as artichoke hearts.
“We expanded our production area and concentrated all production lines and logistics under one roof now,” Mr. Quekel enthuses. “We also invested in new machinery and already implemented a new warehouse management system, reevaluating every product in our assortment.”
The parent company Health Food Group Holding BV has 34 employees, enjoying as much synergy as possible. Its sales force is now concentrated in Felix Cohen, while a highly automatized production plant for sweeteners is based in Belgium and all logistic activities are collectively handled in Oosterhout.
A new informative website is in place, and Felix Cohen is developing a new webportal concept. “It will be a complete e-commerce concept for our clients, styled in their look and feel, while all logistics behind the website will be taken care of by us,” he adds. “We will offer this as a complete concept later on.”
Felix Cohen has an inhouse photo studio for its marketing activities. These include participation in trade fairs, activities on social media, leaflets, and extensive product demonstrations at its clients’ site. “Due to internet, the import world is much smaller than it used to be. As anyone can import products and offer them online, product quality is suffering for it and price levels are under pressure,” Mr. Quekel notes. “Felix Cohen has always been synonymous with hiqh quality products, and traceability. So clients who are looking for high quality certified products come to us.”