Over four years ago, Vincent Schoen started his company Freshlink in the Dutch town of Hengelo and later re-located to the building of Goes Handling in De Meern, aimed at the import and export of fruits from overseas. “I’m happy with the developments of the past couple of years. It was hard work, but we have been able to earn our keep,” the founder notes. “Over the past couple of years, our activities have expanded considerably, and our team now consists of four people. We hope to grow even more, but it is not my ambition to end up with over six people in our commerce team. At all times, we want to maintain our structure and vision as a flexible player.”
By now, the South African citrus season at Freshlink is in full swing. “At the moment, we receive a lot of grapefruits. The expectations were high. Prices are under mild pressure, but sales continue. With the Turkish and Spanish season coming to an end, the focus is now on South Africa, and I expect an upswing in the market over the next couple of weeks”, says Vincent. “Expectations were low for South African lemons, but with Argentina not supplying as many lemons as normal and the amount coming from South Africa staying limited, the market could turn around in the next couple of weeks.”
Besides citrus fruits, grapes, and exotics, soft fruits also make up an important part of Freshlink’s product range. “We try to keep up with the seasons and, among others, supply blueberries year-round. Now we are in the midst of the Spanish season, complimented with berries from Peru. The price has remained relatively stable, with around €6,50/kg for the Spanish blueberries. The demand for raspberries has also been high lately, which resulted in higher prices”, says Vincent. The company mainly imports grapes from Egypt at the moment. “We unload these in the harbor of the Slovenian town Koper where we have an agent. This way, we are close to our sales market. We do the same for citrus fruits and peppers from Egypt and the green Sweetie-grapefruit from Israel. We are also preparing for the Chinese pomelo season again, in which we partake with mainly white and pink pomelos from the first week of September until the season ends.”
Freshlink’s clientele mainly consists of service providers from European retailers in Central- and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, France, and the United Kingdom. “We have a flat organization and can easily switch when needed. That is our added value. If you want to supply retail directly, you will need to set up more departments. However, our strength is that we have a low-cost structure. Being flexible and keeping your promises, that’s what we stand for. By keeping the communication lines to suppliers, growers, and importers short, we can quickly respond to the dynamic fresh fruits and vegetable market.”
“Goes Handling takes over all of the logistic activities, and we pay them based on pallet rate. If we have a lot of trade going on, we also have don’t have as many costs. With the customs department of Goes Handling and the quality department at Lindex, we have all of the facilities to provide our customers with high-quality goods against a competitive price in-house.” A milestone was reached on the 26th of April when Freshlink was awarded the IFS Broker certificate on Higher Level. “With this, we guarantee the quality and food safety of the products we supply”, says Peter van den Brink, who was responsible for this during his internship.