For the Dutch growers association Fossa Eugenia, 2022 is a memorable year. The company is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is saying goodbye to Ton Holthuijsen, the association's figurehead, who is stepping down as president. Ton founded and has directed Fossa Eugenia for the last quarter-century. On Friday, April 29th, Fossa Eugenia will reflect on its past and Ton's role in the cooperative and the regional horticulture.
On that day, the association will celebrate both these special occasions with its growers, clients, and business partners. A book vividly describing Fossa Eugenia's 25 year-history will be presented then too.
Photo right: Ton Holthuijsen
"Venlo Euregions' tomato growers started the Fossa Eugenia Growers Association in 1997. Although the intention was for more companies to join, not all growers were keen on this. There were doubts about the concept, members, and management style. Also, for many growers, it was a strange idea not to go for the best price every day, but to look at the long term and invest in relationships with a few selected trading houses. Fossa Eugenia did things like arranging sales. The member growers liked that, especially because, as a group, they could do better business with large trading houses and retailers."
"The tomato growers affiliated at the time had the common goal of improving their business' chances of survival, and it worked. The cooperative ensured that members could sell their produce quickly at fair prices, and determined how the growers worked. The quality had to be perfect, which Agro Quality Support monitored. If necessary, the Fossa management encouraged its members to make agreed-upon improvements. After all, the timely delivery of required quantities of consistent quality was a matter for all members. So, each member didn't store products but delivered them directly after harvesting. Products had to reach customers as fresh as possible."
"For many horticulturists, this new way of working represented a cultural shift. Until then, many of their lives had been centered around their own businesses. They delivered their products to auction, and that was it. They came out of their isolation to be part of something, as members of a growers' cooperative. They got a role in the organization and became involved in consultations. In this sense, the advent of growers' associations can be seen as the beginning of horticulturists' liberation and an important step toward modern entrepreneurship. Growers' associations effectively put an end to a kind of enslavement. Horticulturists laid down their yokes and showed they were independent, self-confident business people who could manage their own affairs..."
These are just a few paragraphs from the book: 25 Jaar Fossa Eugenia 'Culture of Quality'.
Today, Fossa Eugenia comprises a varied group of regional vegetable growers. The association supplies a complete range of sustainable, fresh, safe, healthy vegetables, herbs, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. That is done daily, without any unnecessary handling, via short distribution channels.
It is growing in a market-oriented, innovative way, responding to sustainability, food safety, and quality demands. This formula appeals to both buyers and growers. It is no surprise, then, that the group is still expanding - in grower numbers, production area, and range.