The start-up of the Dutch Fresh Produce Knowledge Club was announced on Monday 5 October. This new initiative by Nic Jooste focuses mainly on connecting the new generation of fresh produce employees with the experienced people who were instrumental in turning the Dutch fresh produce industry into a major global player.
Nic Jooste: “In recent years we have seen that there is a great need for new blood in the fresh produce business. The bright young minds who do enter our industry are eager to learn, dare to devise new solutions to problems and explore new ways of tackling challenges. The problem, however, is that in the daily commercial challenges of fruit and vegetable trading there is often little room for entrepreneurs to set up tailor-made campaigns to attract young talent, and to provide them with learning plans to aid their development. I want to contribute to this situation by making available my knowledge and network”.
Jooste says that recent conversations with these new generations of employees have shown that they see great value in gaining knowledge in disciplines and topics that may not be in the mainstream of fresh produce at the moment, but which will eventually play a crucial role in the industry. “Think of data science, artificial intelligence, digital communication, circular packaging and sustainability in all facets. After all, they want to do broad and deep research and learn a lot about different subjects quickly. They need to be exposed to innovative and innovative ways of thinking (and acting) so that they can bring about change and renewal. A fresh produce company must therefore continuously stimulate young employees with challenges and new concepts, otherwise there is a risk that they will leave for a more challenging work environment. We cannot allow this!”
Jooste says that he wants to invest his extensive knowledge and experience in fresh produce in driving the knowledge club concept. In 2003 he was already a first mover in the field of sustainability in fresh produce. As a specialist speaker on sustainability he was successful in involving new generations in various international conferences. He has also provided guidance to interns for many years and is still involved on an ad hoc basis as a guest lecturer at several agricultural universities of applied sciences.
“The Fresh Produce Knowledge Club will invite a dynamic speaker every quarter (perhaps more frequently) to bring an interesting topic to the discussion stage. We will also arrange study visits based on ‘taking a peek’ at how other industries are tackling modern challenges and implementing new future strategies. We are convinced that with this broad interaction between industries – as well as the knowledge sharing between the young and the older generation – we will be able to add real value to the fresh produce world. To facilitate this, we will set up a meeting location in Barendrecht where international fresh produce specialists can come together and share ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. All meetings will be held with full compliance with the protocols regarding Covid-19.”
The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday 5 November from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The opportunities of data science, big data, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence in fruit and vegetables will be examined by two young data scientists from Rotterdam.
Becoming a member of the AGF Kennisclub is free. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org