In the summer of 2021, Edwin Stuik joined Amsterdam Perishable Center (APC) Handling as general manager. That was after a long career in perishable air cargo handling. APC is an IPHandlers' subsidiary specifically focused on handling fruit and vegetable imports at Schiphol and surrounding airports.
"IPHandlers has always focused on the flower and plant sector," Edwin begins. "However, its fruit and vegetable segment was growing rapidly. Based on the belief that each market requires its own approach, they established sister company APC Handling in 2019. Since then, we've grown nicely, but we've now realized our true potential."
APC Handling has 6.000m2 of climate-controlled cold storage space. It is one of the largest international fruit, vegetable, and other fresh produce airfreight handling players. The company is SKAL and BRC certified. "We're in among huge and small companies, which is how we position ourselves," Edwin continues.
"We have a small business' personal contact. Our customers always have a single contact person who takes care of the entire process: inbound planning, customs formalities, inspection, delivery, and invoicing. At the same time, we have access to a large organization (combined with IP Handlers). Our cargo warehouses near Schipol mean we're on the front line 24/7."
"Our motto is that we handle imports hassle-free for our clients. There's quite a bit involved in that. Many of the incoming cargo shipments have some kind of issue. The goods have traveled halfway around the world, so there are regular temperature problems, delays, or, for example, packaging damage. We have to ensure the products reach the buyers in the best possible condition. We can adjust our warehouse's layout, and our cooling complex has four different temperature zones," explains Edwin.
"That greatly increases our flexibility and customer service level. Our offloading team can be found in the first row of airline hangers. That means we often have the cargo available to our clients before many of the other companies. Our buyers then receive their goods sooner, or we can re-cool products and still deliver them quickly. We choose the correct storage depending on the product and its condition when it arrives at our facility. If necessary, we re-cool it correctly using, say, vacuum or blast cooling."
"The kinds of fruit and vegetables APC Handling handles from around the world are endless. The most common are mangoes, avocados, asparagus, papaya, pineapple, soft fruits, mushrooms, beans, and peas. Each variety must be treated in its own characteristic, specific way. We know what those requirements are, and we can meet them," Struik says.
The pandemic has severely affected the airfreight sector, and the market has not yet fully recovered, says Edwin. "There's still limited cargo capacity available. Also, some of our customers' imports usually went to Eastern Europe. Those trade flows are now lagging due to the situation in Ukraine. Airfreight's only advantage is that sea freight isn't currently in a much better position. Every modality has its issues, and I don't see that improving any time soon. However, that means we'll remain crucial, so I'm confident about APC Handling's future."
"APC Handling is a young, growing, fully developing company," says the general manager. "I want to, eventually, see our activities become ever more evenly distributed. Handling fruit and vegetable imports will remain central, and that focus will strengthen. However, it's time air, and sea freight, exports contribute more as a service. Our parent company is a recognized name in the air freight market."
"But we've only just started with APC. We'll use our current client base and renewed identity to convince more potential customers that APC Handling is the right partner for them. That's if they want an independent, customer-oriented import handler for the Netherlands and surrounding European airports," Edwin concludes.