The CEO of Dutch organic specialist Eosta, Volkert Engelsman, has described the behaviour of the big supermarkets as “criminal” for their short-term focus when selling fruit and vegetables, according to an interview in Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad.
“It’s all focused on the short term, in the interests of the shareholders,” he said. “The damage that is being done to humans and the environment should be included in the sale price. It’s outrageous. Let’s take the real cost into account.”
He also highlighted the inherent unfairness of a system that sees a small fraction of what the consumer pays go back to the grower, despite the often high margins.
“Eosta pays growers the real value of the product, but many supermarkets do not,” said Engelsman. “They pass the health and environmental costs on to society. I think this system’s criminal.”
Speaking specifically about Albert Heijn, one of Eosta’s regular supermarket customers in the Netherlands, Engelsman complained of a lack of transparency.
“Transparency, which allows customers to see where the products on the shelf come from, is perceived as life-threatening by Albert Heijn,” he said, a suggestion the retailer strenuously denied.
New distribution centre
Eosta has announced the start of construction on a new distribution centre in Waddinxveen, including 15,000m2 of warehousing and 3,000m2 of offices, to be completed in early 2018.
The investment is a response to rising sales, which increased to over €100m at the company last year, an 11-per-cent growth on the previous year, driven by imports of mangoes, kiwifruit and avocados, as well as Dutch items like tomatoes and peppers.
Engelsman revealed his confidence that sales would continue to rise in the coming years.