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Let’s reduce food waste!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Valstar: The Sustainable Series

Best Fresh Foundation Golf Tournament 2020

THE FIRST ELEPHANT GRASS PACKAGING!

CHANGE YOUR RESTAURANT MENU!

HELPING REDUCE FOOD WASTE!

Holland season during Covid-19

United against foodwaste!

BroccoCress®

Corona-update

Qwix: The healthy snack concept

Dutch cucumbers are available again!

Intense presented at Fruit Logistica

The tomato you didn’t know you needed

National Vital week at Best Fresh!

70th edition of Valstar Wielerspektakel

Heat wave

Playing tennis for a good cause!

World cucumber day!

London Produce Show

EasytoSnack Products

Brexit in the agri- and foodsector

New sustainable Kumato packaging!

Fruit Logistica 2019

Fruit Attraction Madrid 2018

Kick-off FoodFirstNetwork

Best Fresh Group 90 years

Valstar Wielerspektakel

Helping the food bank

Heat wave

Kom in de kas

Opening World Horti Center

Fruit Logistica 2018

WOP Dubai

Fruit Attraction Madrid

Asia Fruit Logistica

Intense

New: Valstar ' the Sustainable Series'

As we announced at the beginning of December, Valstar has launched a video series on its sustainability efforts. Every month, we share a new video featuring one of our employees sitting down with a specialist to discuss a new sustainability topic. This month that topic is food waste, and the latest video is now available for viewing!

Every year, one-third of all food worldwide is wasted. We think this is an enormous amount, which is why we want to bring attention to this topic. In our video, Emma den Ouden, the CSR Manager of Best Fresh, and Toine Timmermans, the Director of “Together Against Food Waste,” sit down to discuss this subject, focusing on three important aspects: the difference between past and current food waste practices, the underlying “chain” associated with a product, and the issue of famine in relation to food waste. 

 

Our steps in reducing food waste

Of course, it would be best not to waste any food at all. We know very well that our growers and suppliers passionately work to produce their vegetables every day. Unfortunately, this process also leads to the unnecessary consumption of packaging materials, storage space, labour, agricultural land, water, energy, and CO2. In response, we have been working hard over the past year to reduce our waste in these areas. 

One of the first steps we took as part of this process was to measure our waste. Which products are wasted, how much waste is generated, and how can we improve these figures? By becoming aware of and paying attention to the exact number of kilogrammes wasted, we have been able to immediately make great strides in this area. We became a member of the “Food Waste Free United”, where we contribute to the goal of halving food waste in the Netherlands by 2030. We also closely collaborate with the “Fruit and Vegetable Brigade,” an organisation that collects and distributes fresh products for food banks located in the Netherlands. 

The result? We halved our waste in 2020 compared to 2019 – a feat accomplished even with the corona crisis! 

Take a quick look at our video and keep an eye on our upcoming social media where Toine will provide tips on how to reduce your own waste!

Read more about our food waste goals here.

 

“In the debate about the best way to combat climate change it becomes ever clearer that it’s about two things: We have to switch to different forms of protein consumption, but most importantly, we have to prevent food waste.” says Toine Timmermans, director of Food Waste Free United.

Valstar is calling you

What a year it’s been. And what a lot of video calls. Compared to the usual hustle and bustle in the departments, the last few months have been eerily quiet. Just like everyone else, we’ve had to work from home over the past few months. Whether we’re in the attic, at the kitchen table or in another impromptu home office, we’ve adapted the way we work without impacting on the service we provide. Our plants have continued to grow, our lorries have continued to deliver, and our vegetables have been as tasty as ever!

We’d like to thank you for your continued support. Together we can move mountains! 2020 has been a challenging year. So let’s end it on a cheerful note and look forward to next year with optimism.

From our offices in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Sustainable Series

In recent weeks, we have worked very hard to produce our own Valstar video series. We will be uploading a new video every month, featuring one of our employees discussing trending topics in sustainability with a specialist from the field. Upcoming topics include food waste, sustainable packaging, and much more.

Sustainability is a very important theme for Valstar. We are proud that we can inspire consumers every day to make healthy and eco-friendly choices by providing a wide range of fruit and vegetables. We are working hard to constantly improve not only our products but also the packaging they come in, the emissions we produce, and the "waste" we put into the world. In this way, we strive to positively contribute to people and the environment.

But how do specialists actually view these subjects? And what can we learn from them? By uploading these videos, we hope to give everyone a better picture of what sustainability looks like in the fruit and vegetable sector. Let's work together to create more innovative and sustainable solutions!

We kick-off the series with a discussion between the Managing Director and CEO of Best Fresh. They discuss what sustainability looks like at Valstar, the future of food, and positive employment practices!

On Wednesday the 23th of September the third edition of the Best Fresh Foundation Charity Golf took place at Golf Club Broekpolder in Vlaardingen. Because COVID0-19 the format was slighty slimmed down, nevertheless it was a very beautiful day!

As part of the CSR policy of Best Fresh, the Best Fresh Foundation (BFF) has been established in 2010 by employees of our affiliated companies. By means of the Best Fresh Foundation, Best Fresh shows her responsibility for and contribution to society. During the BFF Golf Tournament 2020 the participants played for “The Westerhonk”. For more than 550 people with a disability the Westerhonk in Monster is their home, together with 100 private residents.

A total of 60 very enthusiastic participants came to Vlaardingen. After the participants had registered, received their goodiebag and were reminded of the RIVM measures, the tournament could begin. During the tournament teams of four walked a total of 18 holes to play Texas Scramble for victory. On the course the participants could enjoy delicious and healthy smoothies, made of products from Best Fresh.

At the end of the tournament everybody could enjoy a drink in the clubhouse. Before dinner the award ceremony took place, where the winners of the 'Longest' and the 'Neary' and the winning team were announced. After the award ceremony it was time to announce the amount of the cheque. The Best Fresh Foundation was allowed to present a beautiful cheque of € 15.000,- to 's Heeren Loo Het Westerhonk. Earlier in the day one of the participants punched a hole-in-one, which was celebrated with an additional donation of € 200, -. This fantastic amount will get a beautiful destination.

A big thanks to the Best Fresh Foundation, all participants and sponsors for their contribution and enthusiasm!

Sustainable packing chain
It's important for Argos and us to contribute to the sustainability of the fruit and vegetable category. Packaging in this category adds a lot of value. This in areas like shelf life and appearance of the product. Moreover, Argos sees that the demand for packaging has received an extra boost. Hygiene and food safety now plays an even more important role. That is why it is essential that we keep innovating en find sustainable solutions together with our partners like Argos.

Vibers

The packaging is made of Vibers cardboard, which contains Dutch grown Elephant grass. So we also teamed up with Vibers, the manufacturer of this paper. Elephant grass is an alternative raw material for packaging. It grows in fallow soil and is planted only once. It's a perennial plant that yields 20 tons of dry biomass per hectare. Add that this grass absorbs four times more CO2 than a comparable plot of trees. These characteristics mean it could be considered a miracle crop. 

EasytoSnack

We have made this sustainable packing under our brand Easyto Snack. A matching brand for this sustainable packaging, because all kinds of snack vegetables can be put in here. The Easyto Snack veggies are healthy snacks that give you an energy boost at any time of the day. Ideal for school, work, at home or on-the-go. Don’t feel like having a snack now? Cut the vegetables and put them in your salad. It is Easyto! Have a view here. 

Dutch Packaging Awards

More good news! This packaging is nominated for the Dutch Packaging Awards 2020 in the category 'Sustainability'. Unfortunately the award ceremony will take place in 2021, because of the corona crisis. But that does not spoil the fun!

However, the corona crisis also brings kind of positive changes for restaurants. Restaurants are renovating their interior, building a new business plan (take-away) and are changing their menu now that they have the time. Some restaurants are even changing their name!

Changing your menu to more plant-based meals now is a good idea! The world’s vegan market is expected to grow to $24 billion in 2025, posting an average growth rate of 9.6 percent annually, according to Grand View Research. Some restaurants that only focused on meat dishes before the corona crisis, have changed completely. Restaurants are going over on a more plant based menu or are serving more sustainable meat or fish. Even fast food companies, like Domino’s and McDonalds are offering more plant-based meals during the ‘lockdown’ menu. In addition, people want to eat more healthier to give their immune system a boost. So veggies cannot miss on your menu.

Limit the number of dishes

Less is more. A limited offer on the menu provides more overview in the orders. This makes it easier to monitor the stock and prepare the dishes. However, it still is important that your offer has to respond to your guests wishes and needs!

Products of the season

To guarantee the best quality and availability for your guests, you can choose for seasonal products. Moreover, you choose for sustainability and the best taste as well! Products that are fully available because of the season, usually also have a good taste. So choose for tomatoes, capsicum and all kind of coals now!

Last Tuesday the national ‘Zero waste’ week started in the Netherlands! From 1 to 7 September everybody in the Netherlands is asked to help to reduce food waste. As a stakeholder of the Foundation ‘United against food waste’ (Stichting Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling) we are, of course, eager to help this initiative!

What to do with food waste?

Since last year we are focussing more and more on reducing our food waste within Valstar. Where is it coming from? But also: where is it going to? We feel the responsibility to avoid food waste as much as possible. Since it is a shame that we waste our products, but at the same time we are also wasting the inputs whilst growing and transporting the products. That is why we purchase our products in the most effective way, so (almost) nothing is wasted in our warehouse at the end of the day. However, some waste is unavoidable. The question is: How can we make the best use of this?

We have a great collaboration with the Vegetable and Food Brigade for Foodbanks, which supplies our products to the Foodbanks in the Netherlands to provide their clients healthy fruits and veggies!

New for us is that we are entering a partnership to make a delicious and healthy soup of our leftover veggies! A beautiful initiative to make the most out of our food waste. 

What are we already doing?

This year we started to analyse our food waste data. What are the biggest resources and how can we reduce them? By doing this, we reduced our food waste this year with …% compared to 2019! A major step forward, if we may say so!

We have the ambition to halve our food waste by 2030. We know this is an ambitious target, but we are working hard to achieve this!

At this time of the year we are over on supplying Dutch products. For a few weeks it was hard to import Spanish products because of the lock-down in Spain. Fortunately our Dutch growers have enough availability of greenhouse vegetables and can guarantee good quality. The prices on the other hand fluctuate because of the irregular demand.

Some products, for example radish, are limited in availability as a consequence of the corona virus and growers sowing less.  For cucumbers, zucchini and capsicums the availability will increase due to the good weather in the Netherlands.

Migrant workers

There are some problems related to labour in Europe: farmers and growers don’t know how to harvest the fields now thousands of seasonal workers cannot or dare not come due to corona virus. The Netherlands relies annually on 170.000 migrant workers, mainly from Eastern Europe. Dutch farmers asking the inhabitants of the Netherlands to work on the field and in the greenhouses. Despite many registrations, few actually come to work. The European Commission therefore decided that many workers are still allowed to cross the border to harvest the asparagus and strawberries. We expect this problem to take a while due to all the restrictions in Europe. So far there are enough workers at our own growers. Due to the closing of the schools, students have more time to come work in the greenhouses.

Exotics

The current shortage of airfreight capacity makes import of exotics hugely expensive. Moreover the availability decreases because there are less flights. Transporting by air is mainly the best option for the shelf life of exotics. However our colleagues are looking for other transport options where we can still maintain and guarantee high quality.

Worldwide food waste

Did you know an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year? That is one third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the Netherlands one fourth of the food is wasted. Moreover, this wasted food is responsible for 8% of the emissions worldwide!

United Against Food Waste Foundation

Luckily there is not only bad news. A lot of hard work is going on to reduce the global food waste and by that means work towards a circular economy. The Dutch foundation “United against food waste” (Stichting Samen tegen voedselverspilling) is established to help reduce food waste. The foundation has the ambition to halve the food waste in the Netherlands by 2030. Because we are eager to help this initiative, and have the same goal in mind, we became a stakeholder of this foundation. In a joint effort, we can make the Netherlands a leader and a global role model in terms of realizing Sustainable Development Goal 12.3: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”

Pillars for action

To achieve their goal of 1 million tonnes less food waste in 2030 the progress and impact is monitored. United Against Food Waste measures the effect of its individual and joint approach. Different stakeholders join forces to share their strengths, network and knowledge to develop innovative solutions. The foundation aims to achieve sustainable changes in consumers behaviour through campaigns, interventions and living labs. And finally, legislation and instruments needed to create a circular economy are stimulated. The foundation already initiated various ways to reduce food waste. For example, they ‘ve build up a marketplace where surpluses can be offered, if companies cannot find a customer mostly due to Covid-19 effects.

We already started with measuring our food waste in detail and will be making detailed analyses of these numbers. Next to that we have been working together with The Vegetable- and Fruitbrigade for Food Banks in The Netherlands to donate products we can no longer sell, which are being distributed among Food Bank clients nationally.

We are proud to be a stakeholder and we cannot wait to make some big changes towards a "Food Waste Free" chain. #verspillingsvrij

BroccoCress®: Tasty and healthy!

Building resistance is important to prevent infection of a virus. Fruits and vegetables can help build a resistance. Vitamin C helps your immune system, so make sure that red peppers, broccoli, kale, sprouts, kiwi and orange are on the menu during these corona-virus weeks. Real vitamin C bombs!

So eating broccoli is important for your vitamin C. But have you ever heard of the BroccoCress? This tiny vegetable is a real superfood. It contains much minerals and vitamins, including sulforaphane. This is a substance that activates enzymes and antioxidants in immune cells. Two BroccoCress sprouts contain as much of sulforaphane as 100g broccoli!

Taste

Broccocress has a mild raw broccoli taste and a little radish-like. It tastes wonderfully on cheese: makes your sandwich extra tasty! It is also good for decoration of all kinds of dishes, a perfect finish for soups and sauces and a very good product to add to a diet.

Specifications

BroccoCress is all year available and can easily be stored up to seven days. Availabe in 8x 1 piece of approximately 14-18G. Origin: Netherlands.

 

More about the BroccoCress

As you would expect, Valstar, too, is assigning the highest priority to its policy concerning the coronavirus. In doing so, we are focusing on the health and safety of our employees, customers, suppliers and other business associates.

We are taking all the necessary precautionary measures, including the minimising of direct contact. Our office is operating with the minimum number of staff required, who are in turn being supported in their efforts by colleagues working from home. The warehouse facilities are accessible only to warehouse personnel. Guidelines regarding hygiene have been tightened and physical contact between colleagues is being minimised. We have also cancelled visits from and to customers and suppliers until further notice.

We have a team dedicated to the daily monitoring of developments concerning the coronavirus. In doing so, we are committed to complying completely with the government's guidelines in this matter.

As far as we can, we are doing everything possible to keep providing our services at an acceptable level and to keep fulfilling our role as a chain partner in the food industry as well as possible.

Nevertheless, should circumstances result in our being unable to provide our services at the desired level, we will immediately inform our customers and suppliers about this and ask for your understanding in such a case.

After all, this is an exceptional situation. We wish everyone the strength to get through this crisis and we hope that everyone recovers from it soon.

The management and employees, Valstar Holland B.V.

The European market of healthy snacking is increasing. The growing need to have a healthy on-the-go snack which has nutritional value is expected to stir up the market growth. Consumers want this kind of snack because of higher energy throughout the day. The United Kingdom has most focus on convenience in combination with health benefits, while Germany is the largest market for organic and natural snacks. The European sales of snack products reached €12.8 billion in 2018, growing 6% from the previous year. Part of the strong snack market can be explained by the growing interest on on-the-go healthy snacks. Some of the most popular healthy snacks include vegetables, nuts, whole grains and seeds among others. Now there is the Qwix, which responds to this trend!

This midi cucumber with a little dip is the perfect healthy snack. Cucumbers are low in calories, but also maintain different kinds of vitamins and minerals. They can help relieve dehydration and are perfect for the summer because of the refreshing taste. The dip sauce gives some extra flavour!

The Qwix concept includes three variants: Natural (no sauce), sweet chili and honey mustard. Packed per piece in a recyclable foil. The midi cucumbers come in a box with 15 pieces. You can tear open the box and place it on a counter. It can stimulate healthy impulse purchases instead of candy and chocolate bars. Ideal for catering spots, at the cash desk or gas stations.

Please contact us for more information about this healthy snack.

Sustainable cucumbers

Last week we visited our grower Voorhof, who started from this week on with harvesting his cucumbers. Voorhof is located in IJsselmuiden, a village in the Dutch province Overijssel. 

We all know cucumbers are green, but these are extra green. You want to know why? Because Voorhof grows them very sustainable. The cultivation takes place in a 4.1 hectare greenhouse that uses geothermal heat and where electricity is generated from solar panels. The sustainable energy sources make the natural gas consumption drop by about 80%! Which from 2012-2019 comes down to saving 18,766,457 kg CO2! Moreover, next to the current greenhouse a new one is being built. In this greenhouse geothermal heat and solar energy will also be used. Plus the glass will be made of multiwall polycarbonate. Because this sheeting has better thermal efficiency, growing seasons can be extended much longer which can result in saving 40% of the heat.

On the way to PlanetProof
Because of all these sustainable investments, Voorhof is certified for “On the way to PlanetProof”. This proves that the grower is producing a product that is more sustainable and therefore better for nature, environment, climate and animals. On the Way to Planetproof growers, farmers and breeders strive to grow that is in balance with the capacity of the earth. 

Almost half of all our products that we have purchased this year is certified with the newly introduced independent quality mark “On the way to PlanetProof”. We believe this quality mark is a real good initative and we strive to buy mainly from growers that are certified "On the way to Planetproof".

The Intense tomato will be presented in style at the Valstar stand during the Fruit Logistica. This plum tomato is ideal for cutting, because of its firm structure and low juice loss. Never heard of the Intense tomato? Read on and visit our stand!

The tomato you didn't know you needed

Does this sound familiar? When you're slicing a tomato, the chopping board is covered in juice and the slices fall apart. Or, you take a freshly made tomato sandwich to work or school in the morning and by lunchtime all you're left with is soggy bread soaked in tomato juice. But not with the Intense tomato! It's perfect for slicing and dicing, retaining both its firm structure and its juice. This makes Intense tomatoes ideal for sandwiches, bruschetta, salads and pizzas. The easy way to add more freshness and flavour to your food!

The tomato stands out for its unique properties and should therefore not be missing on the vegetable shelf. It is a good addition to have with all other tomatoes. The product has been available on the German market for a number of years now and the number of consumers buying these tomatoes are still growing. Research of the Intense among Germans has shown that they find no matching properties with other tomatoes and none as convincing as this tomato. What is especially positive, is the solid flesh which is ideal for slicing the tomato and the low loss of juice.

Because of these characteristics, many consumers remain loyal to the brand, 87% therefore consider themselves a fan.

New, sustainable packaging
We developed a new package to better highlight the characteristics of the Intense tomato. Under the Intense logo “die Schnittfeste” has been added to emphasise the firm structure of the tomato. The most used applications has a picture and you will find a recipe for pizza and sandwich on the packaging. In this way it is clear at a glance what the tomato is for.

The theme of sustainability cannot be missed. The new packaging consists for the most part of cardboard, which is made from 100% FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper. But why then a plastic window? The reason for this is partly to protect the product. In addition, the research showed that visibility of the product is very important for the consumer to assess the condition of the tomato. Nobody wants to come home with damaged tomatoes. The window consists of PLA (Polyactic acid) foil, this bioplastic is made from a renewable, vegetable source and is compostable.

Fruit Logistica

At Fruit Logistica on 5, 6 and 7 February you can visit us (Hall 3.2 - stand 27) for a taste, to view the new packaging and to see a demonstrating of the tomato cutting.
 

Does this sound familiar? When you’re slicing a tomato, the copping board is covered in juice and the slices fall apart. Or, you take a freshly made tomato sandwich to work or school in the morning and by lunchtime all you’re left with is soggy bread soaked in tomato juice.

But not with the Intense tomato! It’s perfect for slicing, retaining both its firm structure and its juice.

 

New packaging

Since a few years we market this tomato to the German market and it becomes more and more popular. That is why we choose to make a new packaging for this tomato. Another reason is sustainability that becomes more important. The packaging now is made out of 67% less plastic.

But what about the plastic window? Yep, indeed. The packaging still has a plastic window. One of the conclusions of the consumer research we did, was the fact that consumers find it necessary to see the product. Tomatoes are still products out of nature and we find it important to see how it looks, in contrast to other fast moving consumer goods. If we would use only carton, you wouldn’t see the tomatoes anymore or the tomatoes would fall out. However we made the plastic window still a little sustainable, it is made of PLA. It is a biobased and degradable plastic. It is made out of 100%  renewable sources and is a good alternative for regular plastic.

 

Look and feel

Besides the packaging, we also changed the look and feel. We wanted to emphasize the characteristics of the product. In the previous packaging we described the product as ideal for pizza, sandwich and salads. We now turned it around and describe that this tomato can be optimally processed by low juice loss.
Since last week you can find our new packaging for the Intense tomato in the stores of Rewe and Globus in Germany. Are you also interested in this tomato? Contact us for more information.

Every year, in the last week of September, there is the so called “Nationale vitaliteitsweek” in the Netherlands. During the event attention is paid to vitality and happiness at work. Since 2015 this event returns every year and people can get information, inspiration and knowledge about vitality/health and work happiness. This year Best Fresh also joins this event and so does Valstar!

During the week every working day a activity is organised based on health, vitality and relaxation. Everybody at Best Fresh can join these activities. Yesterday, the Food & Fit team handed out a power juice made of orange juice, carrot and ginger. On Tuesday everybody who come along with the bike  receive some blue berries. Every Wednesday there is a walk during lunch, on Thursday a bootcamp is organised and Friday there is somebody present who can answer questions about your working posture. Besides these activities employees of Best Fresh can enjoy a healthy lunch at our canteen. Delicious soups, salads and breads are freshly prepared every day.

Yesterday was the 70th edition of the Valstar Wielerspektakel, a local cycling racing event which takes place every year. With temperatures up to 30 degrees it was a very hot day, but the runners made the best out of it! Like every year, the program existed of various components: the novices, the juniors/amateurs/sportclass, the Rabo Race, Region runners A & B Category, and the fullprofs.

We also joined with two teams for the region runners. We achieved a second and twenty first place with this race. The winners of the profs were Dylan van Baarle en Jason van Dalen. For Van Baarle it is the 3th time he wins this cycling round in Naaldwijk.

At the time the profs ended their races, there was subsequently a party with different artists.

Just like last year, we had a heat wave last week. With temperatures above 30 degrees some harvests can be less successful or even fail. That's why we want to tell you a bit more about it.

For the greenhouses this weather results in less pollination, because it is too hot for the bees. Besides, the fruits of the plant will grow faster, which means an overproduction on the short-term. This also means that there might be a shortage in a while.

Every product has a different reaction to warm temperatures. For tomatoes on the vine applies that the colouring of the fruits go faster. The grower has to harvest the products earlier, so when the fruit is greener. That is the way to make sure there are not too many tomatoes at one time.

Bell peppers also colour faster. When the temperatures are very high, bell peppers can get sunburnt. Due to sunburn the skin of bell peppers will get wrinkly. Sunburn doesn’t only affect the fruits of the peppers, but also the leaves and stems. 

For cucumbers the hot weather causes not any harm. Cucumbers adapt easily to the temperature, the only thing is that the cucumbers grow faster. So that means there is a possibility that there will be a surplus of cucumbers.

If the weather gets cooler, some plants will go into a restoration mode. This means the plants are solely focused on restoring and don’t focus on producing fruits. 

Last friday our colleagues played tennis for the good cause ALS together with the Best Fresh Foundation. The 24-hours tennismarathon took place at the tennisclub in Honserlersdijk, which is near at our office. The tournament started at 19:00 and finnished the next day at 19:00. 

The Best Fresh Team raised an amount of €1.725. Together with all the other teams they raised an amount €45.735,17!

The Best Fresh Foundation has been established in 2010 by employees of our affiliated companies. By means of the Best Fresh Foundation, Best Fresh shows her responsibility for and contribution to society.

Well done!

Today is world cucumber day. Cucumbers are actually very interesting. Did you know cucumbers are made up of 95% water? Despite that, they are full of vitamins and very good to soothe sunburn.

Because of world cucumber day we want to highlight our own cucumber grower. In Ijsselmuiden, where this grower is located, they grow cucumbers in a very sustainable way. The grower uses geothermal energy, this means the greenhouse is heated in a sustainable way. By using geothermal heat, 89% of natural gas is saved and the CO2 emission is also significantly reduced. Besides, the roof has 794 solar panels to generate electricity for the sorting machines and powering the pumps. To keep the warmth inside, the whole greenhouse has double windows.

On top of that the plants grow on green co2. What? Yes, green co2. This co2 is liquid and is used to stimulate the grow of the cucumbers plants. 2.500 ton of liquid co2 is enough to compensate the emission of 13.000 car mileage! So these cucumbers are very sustainable, aren’t they?

Curious? We have them available in all different sizes: 300-350, 400-450, 450-500 and 500-600. 

The London Produce Show is UK's leading Global produce event for connecting suppliers with buyers. It was held from June 5-7 at London, one of the world's iconic cities for the fresh fruit, vegetable and flower industries. The one-day exhibiton gives trade exhibitors access to a wide range of international produce buyers from the retail, foodservice and wholesale sectors. 

After the exhibition we attented the FCP awards in the evening. Bevington Salads got the award for Wholesale Fruit & Veg Supplier of the year. Congratulations!

There are more and more restaurants that serve vegetables, but we also eat more vegetables at home. The demand for snack vegetables has increased enormously in the last five years. Not only in volume, but also in diversity. Of course the snack tomato is the best-known product of this snack trend, however the mini-cucumber and small peppers are becoming more popular.

With the EasytoSnack range we want to respond to the snack trend. These little veggies give you an energy boost at any time of the day. Ideal for school, work, at home or on-the-go. It is Easyto!

In addition, we upgraded the packaging to a printed tray made of FSC cardboard and decreased the plastic. We have multiple vegetable options in these 250g carton: red, yellow, brown and orange snacktomatoes or mixed in what we call the ‘Sunshine mix’. Also mini cucumbers and peppers are available.

The snack packagings are available in 9x250gr from the Netherlands or Belgium.

We are sure you are aware of the possible Brexit. The negotiations are still in full swing at the moment. We take into account that a hard Brexit is almost unavoidable.

Consequences of Brexit

If a hard Brexit will take place, all the business between the United Kingdom and European Union will be covered by WTO (World Trade Organization). This means customs declarations must be made again, import rates will be applied and customs controls must be held at the border, which will result in longer waiting times, higher costs and more administration.

Stricter requirements may be imposed to the quality of products in terms of import and export. As a fruit and vegetable exporter, we will have to prove that our products meet the required quality by means of a phytosanitary certificate. This certificate is a statement in which the authorities of the country of origin declare that these products are healthy and do not suffer from a disease. The customs in the EU will have to assess the declaration and decide if the products can or cannot be exported.

The products have to meet the equirements of the United Kingdom as well. So when the products arrive at the terminal or port, it is possible that the customs want to check the documents or products again. This can cause longer waiting times for our products to arrive at the destination.

What does it mean for the agri- and foodsector?

The United Kingdom is an important export state for the Netherlands. 7,1% of all import and export goes to the UK, with a value of 62 billion euros. For Valstar it is even more important, 23% of our products are exported to the UK and we are cooperating with multiple companies.

Furthermore, the agri- and foodsector is one of the sectors where the Brexit will have the most impact. A large proportion of fruit and veg eaten in the UK is imported – with 84% of fruit and 43% of vegetables eaten in the UK in 2017 imported from the European Union (EU) and non-EU countries. This leads to an increasing price for fruit and vegetables due to the import tariffs and trade costs. A team of researchers from the University of Liverpool and Imperial College London examined that under a no deal Brexit the cost of bananas would rise by approximately 17%, citrus fruits by 14%, and tomatoes by 15%.

Going on

Despite the disadvantages we find it important that our trade and transport can still continue. So that we can still deliver our products to our customers in the United Kingdom.

However it is still not clear what will happen with Brexit. Together with our sister company ABC Logistics we will continue to closely monitor the current situation until binding agreements are made between the EU and the United Kingdom. If you are a customer of us, you probably have had a letter with information about what you can do to prepare your company for Brexit. If you didn’t receive this, please let your accountmanager know and they will send them to you.

Sustainable packagings are becoming more important for supermarkets, and for some it becomes the norm. Some big companies like Coca Cola and Unilever try to reduce the plastic or even banish it and of course we cannot stay behind. That’s why we developed a platic-free packaging for the Kumato tomato, made of only FSC certified cardboard.

An issue with packagings of cardboard is the visibility of the product. With this packaging we tried many options to keep enough sight, without the tomatoes falling out. We created two openings, at the front and back, for air circulation. An advantage of tomatoes is that these fresh products have a pretty good shelf life, even without plastic.

The Kumato has a dark-brown/golden-green color and an intense, sweet taste. Ripening occurs from the inside to the outside. The Kumato looks suprisingly in your shelf, it is sustainable and not just a regular red tomato. You can use this tomato perfect for tomato carpaccio or a caprese salad!

We created this packaging together with our supplier Den Berk. Den Berk is one of the best growers in Europe when it comes to tomatoes. Together we developed the packaging for two different markets. Therefore we have two different packagings, one with the German language and one in Dutch, German and French. Of course we can develop a packaging adjusted to your market together.

The Kumato in this new packaging is available in 10x340g from Belgium.

February 2019: the Fruit Logistica fair. One of the biggest international fairs for the fruit and vegetable sector. The fair is a good place to see current, new and potential clients and get them acquainted with our products and possibilities.

One of our goals for the fair this year was to express ourselves as a real service provider. We introduced new packaging possibilities, such as sustainable packaging and a pick & mix with a clean appearance. Consumers prefer to have as less plastic as possible and we are doing our best to create personalized cardboard packaging for our clients.

As you might be able to see at the photo, not only Valstar is present at the Best Fresh stand, but so were our colleagues of Best Fresh! We each had our own stand with our own specialisms, but we were connected by the stand and its pass ways. In our stand was also the opportunityto blend your own smoothie by cycling at the smoothie bar!

Hope to see you next year!

Last week we attented the Fruit Attraction in Madrid. Normally, only Valstar and BioWorld are present of the Best Fresh. However, this year Yex, Eminent and FruitWorld also joined us and we shared a booth with these companies. Our collegues from Valstar Spain and Valstar UK were also present.

Since the Best Fresh has a new corporate identity, the booth had some new colors. BioWorld showed her new corporate identity as well at this fair. We showed our products, like the Pick & Mix, different kinds of tomatoes and even a new product: purple cabbage. This product matches with our own corporate identity very well by the way 😉.

It was a succesfull fair and we hope to see you next year.

Last Friday we had a kick-off of the FoodFirstNetwork. This network is an online platform about a healthy living. On this platform FoodFirst communicates healthy recipes, workout tips and information from their experts. The Best Fresh Group decided to join this network and now all employees have access to this network!

With this platform we can all learn how to prepare delicous and healthy food, make the right choices when doing groceries and learn more about sports!

During the kick-off Jan Dekker did a quiz about healthy food and Rudolph van Veen cooked live! He made a salad with spinach, zucchini and self-made pesto! Delicious. Besides the cooking, Rudolph introduced the “pollepel challenge”. If you find the pot ladle on your desk, you are challenged to make a recipe from the FoodFirstNetwork.

This weekend we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Best Fresh Group. In 1928 M. Valstar established Fa. M. Valstar in Naaldwijk. In mid-July of that year, Maart established himself as a trader on the newly built vegetable and fruit auction in “Naaldwijk”. During these first years not only Dutch, but also German and English customers were being supplied. Later on the export activities were expanded to other European countries. In 2008 the ‘Valstar Group’ was renamed “Best Fresh Group” and meanwhile it extended to 13 different companies within the group.

Saturday afternoon there was an open day for the employees and their family and friends. Every company of the Best Fresh Group had the opportunity to present themselves in the warehouse. With over 1000 visitors, it was a very nice day!

In the evening there was a great party for the employees to thank them for their hard work during the last 90 years. On to the century 😊!

On Tuesday the 22nd of August, the 69th edition of the Valstar Wielerspektakel took place. This is a local cycling racing event, organised by a group of volunteers. The program existed of various components: the novices, the juniors/amateurs/sportclass, the Rabo Race, Region runners A & B Category, and the fullprofs. Also our Best Fresh Foundation Team took part at the Business Cycle Run. The winners of the profs were Bram Tankink and Jos van Emden. We would like to thank everybody for coming and hope to see you next year at the 70th year anniversary!

At one of our sistercompanies at the ABC tradepark, a new assembly point for the Dutch Food Bank has opened. Together with the other companies of the Best Fresh Group we collect fruit and vegetables for people in the Netherlands who cannot (fully) afford their own food. With a group of volunteers the fruit and vegetables are sorted out and packed in boxes together with other food related products.

Especially vegetables that cannot be sold to the traders, are being used for the food bank. Those vegetables are fine, but often deformed. Normally, Valstar would sell these kind of products for a small price. But instead of doing that, we now have the opportunity to do something good and give it to the food bank.

In the first week more than 15.000 kilos of fresh fruit and vegetables have been processed at the assembly point. Earlier, local banks had to reject this project, because they did not have the manpower or space to do this. With this new assembly point this is no longer a problem. Big volumes can be processed here full of fresh, but a little misshaped, products.

In the Netherlands a heat wave is going on. With temperatures above 30 degrees some harvests will be less successful or even fail. That is why this weather is also called “technical weather” by horticulturalists.

For the greenhouses this weather results in less pollination, because it is too hot for the bees. Besides, the fruits of the plant will grow faster, what means an overproduction on the short-term. This also means that there might be a shortage in a while.

Because the temperature is high and the air humidity low, the pollen can burn. If that happens the trusses of tomatoes are irregular, with a result that especially cherries on the vine are not so pretty. Also, the firmness of the tomatoes will decrease.

Bell peppers can get sunburnt. Due to sunburn the skin of bell peppers will get wrinkly. Sunburn doesn’t only affect the fruits of the peppers, but also the leaves and stems. Very ripe peppers are most sensitive for sunburn.

For cucumbers the hot weather causes not as many problems, because cucumbers grow faster. This is why the fruits can easily adapt to the temperature.

If the weather will get cooler, some plants will get into a restoration mode. This means the plants are solely focused on restoring and don’t focus on producing fruits.

For the plants grown outdoors, the night temperature doesn’t get beneath 20 degrees and therefore the plants get into a surviving mode. Cauliflower doesn’t produce new cabbages and the harvest will get into a dip in a few weeks.

Every year the Dutch horticultural sector organises the so called “Kom in de Kas” days. Literally meaning, “Come into the Greenhouse”. Last weekend it took place in 22 greenhouse areas in the Netherlands. The audience can visit various farmers in both the vegetable as flower sector. New this year was that the World Horti Centre opened its doors for visitors.

As you might know, Valstar has its own booth in the World Horti Centre together with the other companies of the Best Fresh Group. Our booth was also opened this weekend during “Kom in de kas”. We served a lot of smoothies and we have informed many visitors about our activities!

Yesterday was the opening of the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk. This center is the place where education and business meet. It is a school for mbo- and hbo-students and research for developments in the horticulture sector is being don here. Queen Maxima (of the Netherlands) officially opened the World Horti Center by placing the world globe at a standard.

We have our own booth as this center together with the other companies of the Best Fresh Group. In this booth you can watch our corporate movie, play real life fruit ninja or have a meeting with customers. We hope to meet you some day at this inspiring place!

In the week of 7-9 February in 2018, we attended the Fruit Logistica in Berlin. With 3.077 exhibitors and 76.000 visitors is the Fruit Logstica one of the biggest produce shows in the international fresh produce trade sector.

It was a succesfull trade show for us, we met a lot of customers and suppliers. In our stand we had a smoothie bar where visitors could make their own smoothie by cycling. Even the famous Dutch Rudolph van Veen and Tamara de Weijer came to visit our stand and made their own smoothie!

On the other half of the stand we showed a lot of our products in a shelf. Also, we presented the restyling of our Easyto range. With the Easyto products, consumers can quickly and easily put vegetables on the table. Find the new style at the pictures on the left.

This week we were present at the WOP in Dubai. Over 200 exhibitors and 11 official country pavilions, the WOP Dubai is an international perishables expo in the Middle East. The WOP Dubai takes place from 5-7 december in the Dubai World Trade Center. We will be present at the Holland pavilion in Hall 1, our booth number is B14.

We hope to meet you there!

From 18 till 20 October we attended the Fruit Attraction in Madrid. The Fruit Attraction is an international trade show for the fruit and vegetable industry. Together with our sister company BioMontana we met a lot of customers. Thanks for visiting us!

From September 5-7 the Asia Fruit Logistica took place. Ly Hoang and Jelle van Dijk of the Overseas team went abroad to Hong Kong to visit this fair.

In the Holland Fresh Group Pavilion, Valstar had their own booth. Here we presented our new corporate identity which we initially introduced during the Fruit Logistica in Berlin. Many importers, wholesalers and retailers go the Asia Fruit Logistica where we always create a moment to talk to our current and potential business relations.

The Asia Fruit Logistica has gone through big growth, an increase of 25% compared to last year. The trade to the Chinese market is developing more and more and with this the number of countries that want to export to South-East Asia is increasing. For Valstar, this area is getting more interesting by the day too.

Through this way we want to thank everyone that visited us at the Asia Fruit Logistica. We hope to see each and every one of you again next year.

The seed breeder Nunhems, has been working on developing the Intense tomato for over 10 years. On the outside, the Intense looks like a regular plum tomato, but on the inside, it is fairly different, the Intense has more chambers than the regular tomato. On the inside, the chambers are more or less comparable to the Coeur de Boeuf tomato.

Because of these exceeding characteristics, we have developed a complete new packaging for the Intense. The black packaging gives the Chef’s tomato the luxury feel it deserves, because the Intense is no regular plum tomato. In addition, the new packaging also clearly depicts for which purposes the Intense is suitable and how the consumer can best use these.

The cardboard tray is also less damaging for the environment, because we have reduced the amount of plastic that is used for this packaging. The only plastic that is used is the flowpack that is wrapped around the tray to make sure the tomatoes stay inside