Mr. Steven de Cuyper
In conversation with Mr. Steven de Cuyper, procurement manager at Agristo
"I’ve been working in the potato sector since 2000. Because my family is also active in the potato business, I was already in contact with the cultivation of potatoes as a teenager. Maybe it’s even in my genes.."
At Agristo, a leading Belgian-Dutch producer of deep-frozen fries and potato specialties, I am responsible for the supply of raw material: strategic buying and selling of seeds, matching varieties with our sales budget.
Agristo supplies its products under various private labels, mostly to supermarket chains within Europe and beyond. Our customers are mostly in foodservice, but also in retail and fast food. Where in retail prices play a leading role, quality is very important in foodservice. Colour and length are important in fast food. The foodservice requests specific varieties. Spreading risk is important. With high production and flexibility to the customer, we cannot depend on one variety.
The Belgian market was mostly traditional, dominated by Bintje. The average consumer has little variety knowledge. Bintje was used for industry, export and for packaging. In addition, the trade had a lot of subsistence. Now the licensed varieties arrive. More and more processors directly approach growers. This begins with the choice of seeds and knowledge exchange.
Meeting challenges through cooperation
Potato cultivation is a seasonal activity, covering all kinds of facets throughout the year, like strategy for the next season, storage period, sharpening market knowledge, weather challenges and risks. You are always anticipating on what happens and finding solutions.
The biggest challenge in my work is quality and the continuous supply of raw material. That starts with seeds, the right varieties and sufficient volume. The industry has grown very strongly. Worldwide there is an increasing demand for our products; there are new markets.
We determine which varieties we want to deploy and set up a multi-annual plan. HZPC helps us to think about new varieties and alternatives. They are highly solution-oriented and that works well. Together we are able to make strategic plans. With their mix of commercial, strategic and human-oriented approach, HZPC can play a role in gathering and strengthening knowledge.’