"I'm not selling tomatoes, I'm selling a story." This is one of Frank van Kleef's illuminating one-liners, but in fact it also forms the basis for Royal Pride's international activities. "A retailer who visits us, but is not yet a customer, should ask himself afterwards why he doesn't yet have our tomatoes in his store." The demands of international supermarket chains for quality and continuity have led Royal Pride to establish growing operations in China and the USA. It is no coincidence that the company's motto is: 'if you want to mean something to a customer over the next 20 years, you have to opt for taste and quality!'
According to Frank van Kleef, there is a general trend for countries around the world to pay more attention to their own food production. Quality, logistics and, above all, food safety are at the root of this. "It is likely that the countries to which we currently supply our tomatoes will increasingly become producers themselves. If that happens, we at Royal Pride want to be a part of it. Hence our cross-border activities."
The broad knowledge and experience of the Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector in general, and of companies such as Royal Pride in particular, are essential for the success of overseas projects. "Topics such as food safety are barely addressed in a country like China, but retailers nonetheless place strict requirements on them. The harmonisation of these directives, both within Europe and beyond, has not gone far enough in recent years."
Frank van Kleef believes that to operate internationally you need to work with the right people. These would preferably be people who understand the mentality of the Dutch horticulture sector. "The Mighty Vine project in Chicago, in which Royal Pride is involved, was set up entirely for 'local for local'. We found people with a lot of business knowledge who could run the project with us. That's essential for the success of an international project."
In China, Frank van Kleef is always accompanied by a Chinese colleague who also speaks good English. "It is not enough to just translate the words. Interpretation is very important; the interpreter must know your business and understand what you want to achieve. Only then will you get the desired translation and the right decisions will be taken."
Watch the video with Frank van Kleef about internationalisation: