One of the continent’s leading fresh produce importers sees team spirit and close partnerships with the trade as the best foundations for its next quarter century

Verdi Import, one of the Netherlands’ leading fresh produce companies, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a grand rooftop cocktail party in Madrid.

Now, as it prepares to head to Fruit Logistica in Berlin, the group’s leadership team says its approach to sourcing and supply remains firmly rooted in strong relationships and the firm’s “good character”.

Its origins stretch back to 1998 and the merger of two prominent fresh produce companies, Vebruco and Disselkoen Import.

Since then, Verdi has cultivated a strong presence in key markets across Western and Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. Via its own warehouse and coldstorage facilitie in Barendrecht, it sources an array of products including citrus, garlic, ginger, grapes, melons, stonefruit and tomatoes from countries including South Africa, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Peru, and Spain.

From the start, Kees Kooijman always wanted Verdi to become a trusted partner for growers and the reliable supplier to a diverse range of customers. Nowadays he attributes its success to an unwavering commitment to that initial vision.

“We realised early on that we couldn’t compete in terms of size, so we opted for a strategy focused on independence, agility, intelligence, and staying well informed,” he explains. “Our ability to respond swiftly to market opportunities has become our greatest strength.”

Gert-Jan van den Heuvel, a long-standing member of the Verdi team since 2004, says he has witnessed numerous moments of upheaval in the fresh produce industry. And often, those changes are the unintended consequence of temptation to diversify into unfamiliar territory.

He believes Verdi’s more careful approach, staying true to its core expertise, has been instrumental in its growth.

“We have surpassed those temptations by sticking to what we excel at,” he suggests. “This relatively conservative strategy has brought immense benefits to Verdi as a company and our team as individuals in the fresh produce sector.”

Their colleague Conrad Rijnhout echoes that sentiment, and emphasises the company’s focus on nurturing strong partnerships. “During a recent organisational development project, we revisited our ‘pillars of power’ and reaffirmed our commitment to building long-term relationships with our suppliers,” he says. “The consistency in quality that we achieve is a testament to the loyalty we have fostered with our growers.”

With a revamped logo, and a new website, it is Verdi’s new slogan – Fresh With Character – that truly encapsulates its unique selling point, namely its team.

“Our team is incredibly multi-skilled, with each member bringing a unique skill set and personality to the table,” Kooijman adds proudly. “This diversity creates a dynamic work environment where individuals thrive because their voices are heard, and they are granted the freedom to shape our business according to their expertise. Leading this team is a great privilege.”

Pictured above (left to right): Conrad Rijnhout, Gert-Jan van den Heuvel, and Kees Kooijman

The Verdi Import team

The Verdi Import team