Several of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s leading players in the Benelux have extended a warm farewell to Ad Klaassen, secretary general of the Dutch Produce Association (DPA) and its marketing arm the Fresh Produce Centre (GroenteFruit Huis), who is retiring after more than four decades in the business.
At a special reception held at the Hilvaria Studios in Hilvarenbeek to mark the occasion, Klaassen looked back on what others described as a highly productive career, one which began at producer organisation NCB (a forerunner to today’s ZLTO) and brought him to the upper echelons of the DPA via stints at Veiling Veldhoven, Voedingsbouw Tuinbouw Nederland and The Greenery.
More recently, he was instrumental in the formation of the DPA as well as the Fresh Produce Centre’s emergence following the dismantling of its predecessor Frugi Venta. As DPA’s managing director Gert Mulder told assembled guests, Klaassen played a crucial role in unifying the Dutch produce trade behind the new marketing entity.
Gerard Pronk, chairman of horticultural cooperative Coforta (which until 2010 was known as The Greenery UA and to this day retains close commercial links with the marketing organisation of the same name), spoke about Klaassen’s roots in the Dutch produce auction network, one which saw a huge amount of consolidation and change during his 43-year career.
Describing him as “studious, alert, sportsmanlike and interested,” Pronk also highlighted GMO as another area in which Klaassen had made a major contribution to the entire Dutch fruit and vegetable sector.
DPA chairman Michiel van Ginkel, agreed: ”Persistent, meticulous and a memory like an elephant,” he said in reference to his erstwhile colleague, going on to point out that Klaassen’s input had led to the appointments of two of the DPA’s most highly influential employees, Hans van Es and Jacqueline Court.
Van Ginkel also paid tribute to Klaassen’s family, including his wife and sons, who he said had made it possible for Ad to put as much energy into his work as he did.
Kees Wantenaar, also chairman of DPA, emphasised the relationship of trust he had enjoyed with Klaassen, thanking him on behalf of the entire organisation for his contribution and dedication.
GroenteFruit Huis’ new secretary general is the organisation’s current policy officer for social affairs and market policy, Suzan van Kuppeveld.