On Thursday 5 July, top companies from the agrifood sector met at the Rotterdam Science Tower, where a number of presentations were given and discussions were held on the subject of ‘Smart Agro Logistics’. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who attended for their valuable contribution.
Strong agrifood region concentrated in Zuid-Holland
Marcel Michon, Managing Partner at BUCK Consultants, presented the results of a study of the various agrifood chains in the Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Region (MRDH) and the impact of Brexit.
Marcel Michon: The agrifood sector is an important sector for the Netherlands. Economic strength will increasingly be determined by an ingenious interplay of primary production, breeding, reproduction, trade and logistics, concentrated in a spatially accessible network with world players in all fields. We have to map it out and also send out the message to the outside world, this is what makes us truly unique. Bring in the Dutch!’
A number of results from the study:
- A total of 78% is exported within Europe, with Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and France as the top 4 most important destinations.
- Exports in the animal chains (dairy, eggs and meat) grew exponentially in 2016 and 2017.
- Zuid-Holland has the largest production yield in Europe with a relatively small surface area.
The importance of preparing for Brexit
Since the UK is the third largest export market for the Dutch agrifood sector, it is important for companies to consider the possible implications of Brexit. Marcel Michon: Companies are preparing themselves and are already ‘practising’ with shipments in countries with similar obstacles and there is even talk of building a UK Hub in this region. I think it would be a good project to start quickly together, because there’s a common interest in the business community, governments and other organisations involved.
Brexit could have the following implications regarding logistics: longer delivery times due to strict border controls, delays at the border, an adverse effect on the quality of fresh produce and insufficient qualified staff to carry out checks quickly. But Brexit also offers opportunities, says Sharon Janmaat, project manager at Rotterdam Food Cluster: ‘Companies can focus on labour migration by bringing activities that are currently taking place in the UK to the Netherlands. If we make good preparations for Brexit in our region, this could give us an advantage over other regions such as Antwerp.
A number of companies are already preparing for Brexit by exporting to Canada on a small scale as a pilot project, for instance. Would you also like to prepare for Brexit? If so, go to: www.brexitloket.nl.
How can agrologistics be organised even more efficiently?
Freek Brilleman, Managing Partner at BeSCOPE Solutions BV, presented the results of the simulation with four companies: The Greenery, Snijpunt, Verstegen and ABC Logistics. This simulation has shown a possible 5% saving in logistics costs. In the light of earlier studies in other sectors, it can be said that savings of as much as 10 to 15% can be achieved if several companies join up. This will ultimately result in a reduction in transport movements, leading to reduced CO2 emissions. Of course, this calls for investment, but it has been demonstrated in other sectors that there is an earnback model. This calls for scale size, or in other words, more cooperating companies. Freek Brilleman calls on other companies to invest for a better result. ‘The more orders there are, the higher the likelihood of better results. This makes it possible for the companies in the food cluster to make product development, transhipment and transport more sustainable and to save costs.’ The discussions prompted by the presentation clearly show that there is a pressing need for a digital platform where logistical data can be shared. The Rotterdam Food Cluster is currently investigating the possibilities and conditions for this platform.
How can we make the food chain more transparent?
Lisa Lütticke, Master’s Supply Chain Management student at Erasmus University, presented her graduation thesis commissioned by the Rotterdam Food Cluster on consumer need for product information and the sharing of data throughout the food chain. Consumers want more and more information about the processes and parties involved in production. This makes it necessary to share product data with the entire food chain in a blockchain-based platform’, Lisa Lütticke recommends.
Do you want to gain a competitive advantage through chain financing?
Sam Schulze, Master’s Supply Chain Management student at Erasmus University, presented his graduation thesis commissioned by the Rotterdam Food Cluster on the benefits of Supply Chain Finance. By integrating the financial flows with the physical flows, parties can cooperate and also gain joint benefits. Retailers, wholesalers and growers can thus improve liquidity and cash flow. Chain financing is successfully carried out in a large number of other sectors. Logistic companies within the fruit and vegetables chain also play a vital role: they can offer financial services to customers in order to create a competitive advantage and thus improve their position in the food chain. It is however true to say that the prefinancing of fresh produce can be difficult, as the products aren’t paid for until their quality has been checked on delivery. Whether your company transports, produces, imports or stores products, you have many ways of improving your financing costs, liquidity and position in your supply chain,” Sam Schulze suggests.
The Greenery and ABC Logistics are two of the four companies that provided data for the simulation. Thomas Knibbeler, Team Manager SCM at The Greenery, and Marcel van Bruggen, Manager Transport Department at ABC Logistics, tell us what they expect.
Thomas Knibbeler: ‘Not every truck that leaves from or comes to us is fully loaded, so there are certainly benefits to be gained from working together with other companies. We’re looking forward to a follow-up.’
Marcel van Bruggen: ‘We combine the logistical flows for the companies within the Best Fresh Group. That’s how we make the flows more efficient. We now also want to share our data with other fruit and vegetable companies in order to work together even more efficiently and make a positive contribution to the environment.’
Do you want to contribute ideas about the digital platform?
Together with as many companies as possible, we would like to draw up a Schedule of Requirements for a digital platform to be developed. Would you like to contribute to this and increase your logistics efficiency in the future? If so, please contact Sharon Janmaat.