A couple of years ago, seven Israeli fresh herb growers decided to join forces. Thus, The Growers - From Field to Client Ltd was born. The growers all own shares in the company. “The growers decided to this after Agrexco’s collapse,” says Violet. Agrexco, Israel’s largest exporter of agricultural produce, went under in 2011.
“The growers agreed among themselves that they would continue. Four years ago, they opened a very small company. They have since continued to export their products every single day. If you stop for one day, you lose your clients,” explains Violet.
“We provide personal, exclusive service. We only sell herbs, so we focus entirely on these products. We do all the logistics ourselves. The company is the growers’ baby.” Violet admits that, as a new company, they have to deal with a lot of competition. “But we believe very strongly that we will succeed,” she says proudly.
Broad client base
The Growers has clients all over the world, from Hong Kong to Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Bulgaria. “We have two big clients in Russia, as well.” Although many other Israeli exporters have a sales office in the Netherlands, Violet says they do not need one for now. “We are in direct contact with our clients. We can supply them with anything they want, regardless of the quantity.”
It is also less expensive to transport goods directly from Israel to clients all over the world. “If you fly products via the Netherlands, it is very expensive.” It also takes longer, which is a disadvantage for the herbs’ quality. This Israeli company also packages the herbs as per request from their clients.
“In France, they want only the 30g packs. In other countries, they prefer 100g bunches. The standard is 80-90g packs. Costco wants punnets. They take crates of punnets.” Everything is done by The Growers, including the printed labels, in Japanese, with The Growers logo.
The company has been buying chives from an Israeli grower that is not part of the company for six months now. “Other growers are only now starting to show interest in joining the group,” adds Violet. “The seven owners are, however, not looking to add members. We are a ‘boutique’ company.”
Each grower is specialized
Each of the owner-growers specializes in a different herb variety. The growers are spread throughout most of Israel, from the Dead Sea region to Beth Shean in the north. The herbs are mostly grown in greenhouses, some in open fields. There are regular phytosanitary checks carried out to check for food safety issues. The growers have all the relevant certifications and permissions.
The Growers also offers micro-vegetables. “We work with the farmer who grows these. We have a good business relationship. We are marketing this product to all our clients, and some are ordering it.” The company has clients in all the different sectors - wholesalers, the foodservice industry, as well as retailers. “We have different clients with different needs in the different countries,” says Violet.
Violet explains that they do business in Europe right through the year. Even though countries in Europe, like the Netherlands, have enough local supply, particularly in the summer. She thinks the reason is the high quality of The Growers herbs. There may also not be enough supply, especially in the winter. “Of course, the amounts ordered in summer are less, but we still get them.”
What will the company look like in five years? “We will be bigger. We will be bigger in the market; we will have bigger offices. We want to be big in Asia, especially Singapore. We are working on this now already. Maybe we will even be able to enter the Chinese market.”
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