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A year of change for Tradin

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

The year 2012 brought a good deal of change for the Dutch organic raw materials specialist Tradin Organic
. The company’s somewhat jaded image was given a makeover and the organization, too small to cope, was upgraded. The result is impressive: a completely revamped, fresh image with a new logo, a new presence on the web, and venturing into social media for the first time. The company headquarters has been re-located in a bigger office block. In terms of employees, Tradin has had to think on a grander scale too, because in 2011 the company achieved record sales, and the level stayed high in 2012 as well. It is in the process of having its own cocoa processing plant built in the vicinity of Amsterdam, and the new facility is scheduled to start operating during 2013. Despite turbulence in the raw materials markets and the difficult economic conditions in some exporting countries, the Dutch-Canadian company is doing well thanks to its years of experience and its own extensive network of projects. (Picture: With more space in its new offices, there is still the possibility of further expansion at Tradin’s headquarters)

“Only eight years ago we moved from the harbour in Amsterdam to the centre of the city and had planned for growth, but we were already bursting at the seams again,” says Gerard Versteegh, the long-serving managing director of Tradin Organic Agriculture BV. The company’s more than 50 employees at head office near the main railway station since the end of December 2012 have finally got more room to work in. In the Silver Tower, in the immediate vicinity of the firm’s old premises, the office space is now more than 1,300 m² spread over three storeys compared with the previous 800 m2. The advantage of a central location is that all employees can come to work by public transport. The re-launch involved a big investment in Tradin’s corporate identity with a new logo, a new website, social media (Facebook,Twitter, Linkedin) and a new product management system. (Picture: Tradin presenting itself with a new logo and re-launched presence on the web)

In 2011 Tradin Holland recorded record growth, and Tradin Organic USA has even trebled its turnover in recent years. And the company certainly can’t complain about developments in 2012, with Versteegh again anticipating growth. He says that in Germany sales are continuing to be stable at a high level, although the markets in southern European countries are a worry for him on account of their parlous economic state. As far as the procurement markets are concerned, the availability of raw materials has been adversely affected by the serious drought in America in the summer of 2012, and other extremes of climate. As a consequence, the price of many raw materials has risen noticeably, even though the crops were not necessarily affected directly by the drought. “The prices of almost all raw materials are tending to rise, the procurement markets are nervous, and it has become more difficult to source a whole range of raw materials,” is how Heiko Grobecker from the German Tradin office in Syke near Bremen describes the situation. “Our supplies are assured, but the trade has got to get used to higher prices,” Versteegh adds. However, he points to an upside, namely that the rising prices could make organic farming a more attractive proposition. (Picture: Successful team: Heiko Grobecker has been working with Gerard Versteegh since 1999)

Gerard Versteegh now has full responsibility for the worldwide business of Tradin after Wim Rabbie, who founded the company in 1985 and built it up together with Versteegh, retired a year ago. “One of our main objectives always was and still is the development of sustainable organic farming and processing projects, and we all continue to agree on that after being taken over by Sunopta,”  Versteegh explains. “Up to 60 % of our offer comes from our own firms and projects, which means greater quality and more safety because growing food and processing are often in the same hands. Tradin has its own processing plants in Ethiopia, China and Serbia, and it sources products in 36 countries.” Also, although it merged with the quoted Canadian company Sunopta in 2007, Tradin operates relatively independently of the Canadian parent company as an experienced importer of raw materials and has a free hand in setting up projects. (Picture: From the China project come oil seeds and pumpkin seeds, for example)

The latest Tradin project is called Crown of Holland. The green commercial estate Agriport A7, 40 km north of Amsterdam, is the location for the company’s own cocoa processing plant that is scheduled to start operating in the middle of 2013. “For 20 years we have sourced cocoa in our project in the Philippines and from suppliers in Ghana, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Uganda, and we had to get other companies to do the processing. But we then decided to make this investment in the future.” This is how Versteegh explains the motive for building the new factory. The agricultural and commercial estate has been constructed with sustainability in mind and, since one of the things they pay particular attention to is reducing waste, the cocoa bean shells, for example, are to be used in high-value animal fodder.

The commercial estate also aspires to being self-sufficient in energy through the interaction of farms and industry. The short journeys from the Tradin warehouses in Amsterdam’s harbour to the cocoa factory, that will produce coca butter, powder and pulp, are a further benefit for the environment. “Having our own facility means, on the one hand, 100 % traceability and, on the other, that we can process small batches of pure varieties to meet the special needs of our customers,” says an enthusiastic Gerard Versteegh. With the new factory, Tradin is creating 25 to 30 jobs, and all of this fits well with the company philosophy and its sustainability strategy. (Picture: Raw materials for the latest Tradin project, the cocoa factory Crown of Holland, are sourced in, for example, Ghana)

In recent years, the company has launched numerous other cropping and processing projects. They include the sesame joint venture Selet Hulling,
involving cropping and an ultra-modern processing facility in Ethiopia (see our earlier report). At the end of 2012 the takeover of The Organic Land Corporation (OLC) in 
Bulgaria was concluded. An oil pipe was added to the de-hulling plant, and this means Tradin will be able, at the latest from the new harvest in the autumn, to supply the EU’s own de-hulled organic bakery sunflower seeds and organic sunflower oil. Frozen fruit and berries are produced in cooperation with the firm MIDI Organic in Serbia. Other projects are located in China (cereals, seeds), Mexico (orange juice), Indonesia (coconut products, coconut sugar), Pakistan (basmati rice), the Philippines (cocoa) and Vietnam (cashews, pineapple, mango and passion fruit). (Picture: Sunflower de-hulling plant with oil pipe in Bulgaria)

“We’re very happy with our projects, but sometimes we need a lot of patience before we can get a project up and running, with farmers trained on location (picture) and the product meeting our quality standards,” explains Versteegh. “Before a consignment can be stored in our warehouses in Holland, it goes through many stages of quality assurance. Every year we spend a six-digit sum on product analysis in independent laboratories.” Heiko Grobecker adds: “Possible pesticide residues have to be identified and explored – for example the consequences of the worldwide use of glyphosate, which is a burning issue still being ignored by those with political responsibility.”

 “Many projects give us great pleasure – for example Selet Hulling in Ethiopia. In 2011 we sold the first big harvest, and its excellent quality was much appreciated by our customers,”  Grobecker recounts. As well as setting up the sesame factory, that is supplied by two cooperatives with a total of about 1,500 small farmers, they have also provided a school where the number of children being taught recently reached 200. “It means a lot to us. When supporting a social project goes hand-in-hand with fair cooperation, good quality and good yields, then that’s a perfect win-win situation for all concerned,” says a delighted Mr Grobecker. (Picture: The school in Ethiopia is one of Tradin’s CSR projects)

Video on the sesame project in Ethiopia





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