BelOrta Conference pears

This week, the executive boards of BelOrta and BFV approved a declaration of intent for more intense collaboration and integration between the Belgian cooperatives, with the aim of achieving a greater combined impact and making cost efficiencies.

Following exploratory discussions last year, it was decided that the benefits to both growers, through optimal market prices, and customers, through excellent service, would be substantial.

'Signing this declaration of intent is an important milestone,' read a joint statement by BelOrta director Philippe Appeltans and BFV managing director Marc Grauwels. 'By doing so, we are strengthening our position as the leading supplier of local and sustainably grown fruit and vegetables, for both the domestic market and for over 70 export markets worldwide.

'Together we have over 1,400 active grower-ambassadors, distributed all over Belgium as well as the border region with the Netherlands. Working together allows us to better implement our core philosophy - of, for and by growers.'

Ludo Lousbergh and Dirk Bertels, the chairs of BFV and BelOrta respectively, added: 'Our products are facing enormous challenges in terms of profitability, cost control, sustainability, innovation and digitalisation. From our discussions, we soon discovered that we share the same long-term vision and have many similarities with respect to corporate culture and values. These similarities strengthen our conviction that we can move towards a more intensive cooperation. An important step for the further development of the Belgian fruit sector.'

According to the cooperatives, the next phase of the discussions is set to focus on concrete initiatives that emerge from the signing of the declaration of intent.