“I’m convinced that people should eat healthier,” states Jurgen de Witte, CEO of Group A. De Witte. As a leading wholesaler in fruits, vegetables and exotics, the family company with its 20 subsidiaries and 500 staff has contributed to a balanced diet on Belgian tables for more than 50 years by now. Although wholesale is at the core of the business, there are more services complimenting the portfolio: import, export, foodservice, logistics and packaging.
“As a consequence, we have a very broad target group. It includes B2B, but also B2C clients like individual shops, restaurants or canteens,” underlines Mr. de Witte. All clients benefit from the complete chain of services, that allows for fast adjustments in case of need: “When volumes of certain goods are critical, we first serve the major retail chains, but our own purchasing department can rebalance such shifts quickly buying bulk elsewhere. That enables us to cater to the needs of the market and to balance pricing as well.”
This approach led to long-lasting relationships between the group and its clients. A mutually beneficial relationship weighs more than every special price according to Mr. de Witte: “The relationship always comes first. That’s why we really pay full attention to the quality of our fruits and vegetables. We want to offer the best quality available. Clients that are only interested in the best deal are not very loyal according to my experience.”
Fruit and vegetables are sourced from all over the world. The produce comes under brands like Pink Lady apples or Chiquita bananas. Group A. De Witte even has its own three conventional brands; “Cibel”, “Cebon” and “Allnuts”. “We set up an ecological brand, “Cebio”. But it’s still in its infancy,” Mr. De Witte adds.
Sustainability plays a role beyond the actual produce. The company shifted packaging from plastic to cardboard, although not all the re-sellers are convinced yet. “Cardboard packaging makes the produce less visible. Some re-sellers argue that’s why clients are buying less at the moment. I think it’s the right way and people will get used to the new standard and its benefits for the environment,” the CEO confirms.
New standards for the company’s services will be set by a new facility that is about to be built at the headquarters at Sint-Katelijne-Waver. Automatization will be important in the future to create more flexibility for the operational side of the business. “In addition, all our different divisions are concentrated at the new location. That’s how we can reduce the cost of transport and become more efficient in the future,” Mr. De Witte concludes.