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TerraSana: International fine foods and more

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

The brand TerraSana is probably as well known in many countries as in its country of origin, namely the Netherlands. For over 20 years, the brand products and imported specialities of this manufacturer and wholesaler in Leimuiden have been sold by the specialist trade. With high quality and an interesting product range, the owner Kees Barnhard has maintained a successful business despite increasingly tough competition, and over the last ten years he has tripled his turnover. The company’s aim is double-digit growth in 2011 as well. (Picture: For over 20 years, TerraSana has been a common sight in the specialist trade in Germany)
“When two people quarrel, a third rejoices” is Kees Barnhard’s comment on developments in the Dutch wholesale trade. Two of the big suppliers to the specialist trade, Natudis and Udea, are going their separate ways, and each is looking for new partners. Udea, the former fresh-food partner of Natudis, is creating a dry goods range, and conversely Natudis is in the process of developing the fresh food segment. Barnhard, the sole owner of TerraSana BV (Ltd), has stayed loyal to the strategy he has implemented for over 30 years - concentrating on a high-value product range and on supplying his customers in the wholefood trade. (Picture: There are about 260 Dutch specialist shops, and the majority receive supplies from TerraSana. The picture shows van Nature in Nijmegen)

Barnhard feels he has a commitment to the distribution channel that for 30 years he has helped to build up. He wants to keep his focus on the specialist wholefood trade despite frequent enquiries from the conventional trade and the temptation to make a quick buck by going in that direction. His principle applies to the roughly 800 articles under the TerraSana brand and the 1,000 products that constitute the rest of the range. “The specialist trade is doing well. The crisis didn’t really damage the organic sector, whereas the conventional trade is gradually cutting back its organic product ranges.” In Barnhard’s view, the future lies in the wholefood trade: “If you want a good screwdriver, you go to a specialist store,” he says with a grin. He is convinced by the quality of the products and the high level of advice available from specialist retailers. (Barnhard’s wife, Inge Segeren, is responsible for customers in France and Spain)

The company is located between The Hague and Amsterdam. The mainstays of the business are manufacturing, importing, packaging and wholesale. You find the packaging facility, the wholesale store and the offices (ca. 2,000 m²) on Leimuiden’s industrial estate. This is where a basic range of dry products are packaged, namely cereals, lentils, dried fruits and muesli. TerraSana also imports about 200 products from Italy and Spain, including pasta, pesto and oils. “They’re almost exclusively from small and medium-size manufacturers who we have worked with for many years,” explains Barnhard, who mostly visits the firms himself and has got to know the owners. It’s the same with the manufacturers of brand articles he works with abroad – for example Sonnentor in Austria, Logocos/Sante or Vitaverde in Germany. He is particularly proud of his wide range of Japanese specialities and macrobiotics (250 articles). He buys the macrobiotic range mainly from the Japanese market leader Muso. (Pictures: The sales team keeps in contact with the customers and offers advice)

Recently TerraSana decided the manufacture of nut purees should be in-house, so that they could control the whole production process and the quality – from the selection of raw materials to the filled jar. Barnhard is very happy with this move, especially as the manufacture of the nut purees is energy-efficient and CO2 neutral thanks to the sophisticated use of solar panels on the roof, water cooling and waste heat recovery. He has also invested in the appearance of the eight types of nut puree and, with new labels and an elegant black lid carrying the firm’s logo, this line has gone a stage further towards the fine foods category. (Picture: Manufacture of nut puree – recently moved in-house – with green energy and CO2 neutral)

TerraSana’s roughly 400 retail and wholesale customers are scattered over most of Europe, and about 60 % of turnover is generated abroad. “Germany is still our biggest market,” says Barnhard, “but France and Spain are catching up rapidly.” The only European market whose organic retail trade suffered noticeably in the crisis is Britain. There the market is recovering slowly. In Germany, the TerraSana brand is listed by all regional wholesalers. In France, the lecithin-free Dutch stroopwafels are especially in demand. Around 450 products are available for export. As well as the nut purees, best sellers are Japanese macrobiotics, Italian fine foods and Dutch confectionery items like waffles and liquorice. (Picture: All customer locations at a glance)

The macrobiotic range is in great demand, but TerraSana has a problem because of the “100 % bio Initiative” for the specialist trade in the German market. Only 60 % of the Japanese specialities are certified organic, because there are no certification guidelines at all for algae products. “The products are natural and unadulterated, and we can say they are in keeping with the organic industry’s fundamental concept of healthy food,” explains Barnhard, himself a fan of macrobiotics. This is why he has a problem in Germany with the guidelines for the specialist trade that were developed and passed by the association of organic retailers, the association of organic supermarkets and the organic retailers’ association in southern Bavaria. Barnhard is a founder member of the German national organic manufacturers and trade association – Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren Herstellung und Handel (BNN) - and is in discussions about exemption clauses. The outcome is still pending. (Picture: The Japanese specialities that are not certified organic are an issue for the German specialist trade)

As well as its comprehensive food and fine foods lines, for about ten years TerraSana has been selling the Sante cosmetics range produced by the German natural cosmetics manufacturer Logocos. This year TerraSana will start selling Fitne, the food supplements and health product range. The brand Barnhard Bodywear is an underwear line for adults made from organic cotton that TerraSana began developing five years ago with its long-term Turkish supplier of chickpeas and lentils. For the last three years, the Eco-certified and GOTS-certified underwear has been on the market. Barnhard sees his commitment to what is for TerraSana a new departure as helping small producers and small processors. “Organic cotton fits well into crop rotations, the valuable raw material does not have to be sold on the conventional market, and we create meaningful jobs in processing,” Barnhard is pleased to report. (Picture: Barnhard has invested heavily in the development of the underwear range)

Barnhard is not keen on concentration of power – he argues in favour of clear and transparent organization. In his view, competition in the organic markets has in any case increased significantly, but the real danger lies in the conventional camp. “The wholefood sector has a common competitor, namely the conventional retail food trade,” is how he puts it. He thinks they must, therefore, at least create solutions in terms of service tools to raise efficiency and save costs. An example of what he has in mind is a common ERP system (enterprise resource planning). He also thinks it would be sensible to pool the organic sector’s efforts in marketing and advertising. Above all, however, he is concerned that the specialist trade should not fall into the trap of following the conventional route but must adhere to its high quality standards: “We understand organics and we speak bio-language, because the bio-business has been our business for more than the last 30 years.” This is why he welcomes the code of values and practice for the industry as drawn up by the organic manufacturers and trade association, BNN. (Picture: Packaging apple rings. Barnhard likes sourcing his goods from small companies. He sets great store by long-term collaboration and transparent organization)

As far as the future is concerned, Barnhard is decidedly upbeat. There is a family atmosphere in the company - after all many of the 40 employees have been with him for a long time and Barnhard’s wife too has worked in the company for the last 15 years. Her focus on France and Spain has resulted in opening up these markets for TerraSana. When Barnhard talks about the lack of storage space and how he would like to take over the premises of a neighbouring firm, he calls that his ‘luxury problem’ that points to healthy growth. The area at his disposal would double, creating space for new product lines and easier warehouse operations. Currently, the lack of space is overcome by storing bulk goods – for example big deliveries of maple syrup or coconut milk – in a rented building. Time will tell. Barnhard’s target for 2011 is a 10 % growth in turnover. What’s more, he would like “to reach the ripe old age of at least 85 in perfect health”. (Picture: Lack of space. Expanding the warehousing facilities would be of great benefit)





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