Grocery retailer SPAR International and vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan have been collaborating closely for more than a decade, resulting in numerous successful value chain projects together. On Tuesday 8 November, at SPAR International’s exclusive business briefing dinner, the retailer recognised this long-standing partnership by presenting Rijk Zwaan with its ‘Fresh Supplier of the Year’ award.
“Rijk Zwaan is an important strategic partner for SPAR,” stated Carla Schoeman, Sourcing & Development Manager at SPAR International, while presenting the award. “Rijk Zwaan’s vision goes beyond simply supplying vegetable seeds and growing produce. They also look ahead at future customer demands and needs for fresh produce, mapping out the journey with retailers to meet these needs when the time comes.”
Jan Doldersum, Manager Chain & Retail at Rijk Zwaan in the Netherlands, and Gregor Hoffmann, Account Manager for Rijk Zwaan in Austria, accepted the award on the company’s behalf. “We are delighted to receive this recognition of everything we have achieved together with SPAR over the years by working so closely together. We’re looking forward to continuing our strategic partnership,” say Doldersum and Hoffmann. The relationship between the two companies began ten years ago in China and has since been extended to projects in other countries.
Services to retailers
“Nowadays, we actually provide three different types services to SPAR. One of them revolves around category growth,” explains Doldersum. He illustrates this with a recent example in Austria: “Based on analysis of SPAR’s sales data, competitive landscape and the desired growth drivers, we helped the retailer to make choices that would expand the whole category. This included advice on how to position the products based on ‘tiering’ (good/better/best), packaging concepts, building private label, in-store presentation techniques and shelf layout. The ultimate aim was to make the category even more profitable.” According to Hoffmann, this approach resulted in the successful introduction with their supplier Frutura of the year-round (winter and summer) cocktail variety, Brioso, as well as Cappricia, a traditional tomato on the vine, and Rugantino, a Coeur de Boeuf type.
Value chain collaboration in India and South Africa
The vegetable breeding company is also working together with the supermarket chain in India and South Africa, for instance. These two projects are focused on services related to sourcing and innovation. “From 2018 to 2021, we were both partners in a project by Wageningen University & Research aimed at setting up local fresh supply chains and opening SPAR stores in rural areas to improve the availability of affordable fresh produce for South Africans. Research findings show that this value chain project makes a significant contribution to a more varied diet for people in South Africa, where accessibility to fresh fruit and vegetables is not always a given,” continues Doldersum. Additionally, SPAR and Rijk Zwaan are introducing SN!BS, which is an example of how the retail chain is responding to the growing consumer demand for healthy snacks.
“As a vegetable breeding company, our vision is to develop innovative vegetable varieties that are aligned with consumer trends and market needs. Together with our partners, we think about new ideas, packaging concepts and sales strategies. Ultimately, we all have the same goal: to work together in the value chain to stimulate consumers worldwide to eat more fresh and healthy vegetables,” concludes Doldersum.