By: Sharon Janmaat 24 Jan, 2019

Interest organisation Fresh Produce Centre represents the fruit and vegetable sector in the Netherlands. Attracting new employees continues to be a challenge because there is no clear image of this sector on the labour market.
In this interview Gert Mulder, managing director of Fresh Produce Centre, explains the expectations of the new generation and the role events such as Market Match could play in attracting it. “Market Match is the ultimate event where companies, schools and students can meet”, says Gert Mulder. Businesses involved in the fruit and vegetable sector must make a contribution in order to ensure this event continues to be a success.

The expectations harboured by the new generation of employees not in line with the reality

“The fruit and vegetable sector does not have a good image on the labour market”, Mulder states. “As a result of digitisation employees with other skills and competences are needed. Products are subject to new requirements at the social, societal and quality levels. It means companies have to provide customers with a guarantee that products satisfy all of these requirements. Consequently attracting employees is a challenge. Expectations do not always reflect the reality. A sustainable, healthy and fair product is consistent with the approach to life adopted by the higher skilled. However, companies are not always focused on this new generation of employees. The highly educated often want to make a difference, which is a definite possibility, but may sometimes take a little longer. Most companies are still rather traditional, so you need to be more determined in order to achieve something.”

The fruit and vegetable sector offers jobs at all levels

The fruit and vegetable sector contributes to a robust economy and has grown significantly in recent decades and will continue to do so through social development. According to Mulder the sector offers plenty of work for all levels. “In other sectors you often see that lower educated workers are being phased out due to automated processes, but the situation in the fruit and vegetable sector is not too bad. Naturally, this sector is also introducing automation but fresh produce still requires a lot of manual labour.”
Fresh Produce Centre wants to improve the sector’s position on the labour market. “Along with the trade unions we organise activities using a training and development fund
(T&D fund) to boost the sector’s development on the labour market. We participate in activities that lead, on the one hand, to a range of suitable study programmes and present the sector as an appealing place to work on the other. We help companies compile a good employer model”, Mulder explains.

Market Match: the ultimate event where companies, schools and students can meet

Market Match is one of the initiatives supported by Fresh Produce Centre. Profiling the fruit and vegetable sector with regard to the new generation was a key element of this two-day event. On 4 and 5 October 2018, two hundred youngsters from higher professional, vocational and university education were challenged to change the food sector together with established businesses in the food and vegetable sector. Gert Mulder looks back on Market Match enthusiastically: “During the event, companies presented their activities to students and experienced how the students perceive them. There was considerable interaction with potential employees and some interesting discussions. As a result the event was extremely dynamic. Market Match offers a golden opportunity for students to show what they could offer the sector. I was very much in support of offering a great prize. If you invest a lot of time and creativity in something it deserves a good prize.” The Market Match winner was ’Goed Brood’, bread that consists of 50% vegetables, without altering the taste of the bread. The winning team won a food trip to South Africa. Want more information about the students’ other innovative solutions? Read more here.

Winnaars_Markt Match
Market match award ceremony. From left to right: Steven Martina, CEO of The Greenery, Irenke Meekma, General Director at Bakker Barendrecht, the winning team from ‘Goed Brood’, Sharon Janmaat, Project Manager at Rotterdam Food Cluster, André Dijk, CQO at Hessing Supervers, Johan in ’t Veld, CEO of Coolfresh and Coen Struijs, Large Corporate Account Manager at Rabobank.

Want to contribute to Market Match 2020?

Gert Mulder calls on fruit and vegetable companies to make a contribution to Market Match. “I hope food companies come to view Market Match as the top event for the sector to engage with universities, universities of applied science and students. This is where our sector will find potentially interested young people. We would like Market Match to ultimately be supported by companies in the fruit and vegetable sector. Fresh Produce Centre and Rotterdam Food Cluster want to continue to play a facilitating role in this venture.” Want to know more about Market Match 2020, and what it could offer you? Contact Fresh Produce Centre.

About Fresh Produce Centre

Fresh Produce Centre represents the interests of companies active in the sale of fruit and vegetables and is a source of knowledge and inspiration. Its members account for over 80% of total sales of fruit and vegetables in the Netherlands, which are worth around €14 billion (including growers’ associations).

Fresh Produce Centre has around 350 members. The members are trading companies and growers’ associations involved in the sale and marketing of fruit and vegetables. They specialise in the domestic wholesale, import, export, treatment, processing, packaging, storage and transhipment of fruit and vegetables.