In 2019 Coöperatie Hoogstraten once again worked hard to put more than 32,500,000 kg of strawberries on the market through auction. Although for many people the auction evokes the image of an old-fashioned sales system, Coöperatie Hoogstraten resolutely opts for innovation and digitisation without affecting the basic principles of the auction system. After eighteen months' optimisation, block sale of strawberries was integrated into a broader digital system in which various applications are available for both producers and buyers. The applications, directly linked to block sale, were collected in the Hoogstraten app under the “Harmony” section. This name was chosen as a symbol for the cooperation of various elements, which ultimately results in a harmonious interplay that is stronger than the sum of its various components.
"The added value that this creates in strawberry sales, for buyers, producers and the Hoogstraten brand, is unmistakable and in 2020 we will be doing further research to see to what extent this methodology can be applied to other products," says Coöperatie Hoogstraten.
Harmony: a comprehensive interplay
Buyers can buy at the auction in the relevant block and, if they desire, immediately express their preference. Expressing a preference for a particular producer within the block generates an additional price that is directly added to the payout price for the producer concerned. In this way producers are tangibly rewarded for their efforts in terms of quality and care. Buyers can use this system to make targeted purchases, opt for homogeneous parties and moreover rely on digital tools. The tool that is central to this whole story is the in-house developed Hoogstraten App. This makes it possible to request additional information about the desired product, to follow evolution of the available range, to implement extensive traceability and to send push notifications to producers as soon as their product is requested on preference.
The block lot has evolved from a simple add-on for traditional auction sales to a comprehensive tool with logistical, sales-technical and digital functionalities. To indicate this evolution, it was time to give this service its own name. Responding on the one hand to the cooperative aspect, products of different producer blocks in homogeneous quality classes, and on the other hand the uniqueness of the product of each individual producer, the name “Harmony” was chosen. In a "harmony" every instrument can play its strong points, a solo on time and a breathing space on time, but the result is a melody that draws its strength from playing the different instruments together. The strength of a Hoogstraten block of strawberries is the homogeneity of a certain volume, which has been a trend-setting price for years. The lot sale aspect allows buyers and producers to set specific accents in terms of quality and presentation.
"For our brand, Hoogstraten-strawberries, we notice that this way of selling gives rise to a continuous and reinforcing urge for quality improvement among producers, which reflects on the full range. Harmony meets the wishes of producers and customers, in short a win-win situation. With this innovation, Hoogstraten expresses its confidence in the clock system as a central sales system for strawberries," concludes Hoogstraten Cooperative.