BE Hoogstraten strawberries

Belgium’s REO Veiling and Coöperatie Hoogstraten have started talks on a potential merger, with the governing bodies of the two fruit and vegetable cooperatives agreeing this week to further develop the proposal.

The coops have a shared aim of “building up a strong and forward-looking cooperative that will continually create sustainable added value for the affiliated growers”, according to a joint press release.

“Hoogstraten and REO Veiling are entering into this process as equal partners, on the basis of mutual respect and belief in each other's good intentions,” they revealed.

The two cooperatives have cooperated for years under various umbrella organisations and through a series of existing projects, and further integration is seen as desirable.

“A merger would give greater strength in responding more decisively to both internal challenges and external opportunities,” the cooperatives stated. ‘In addition, an increase in scale would be a conscious choice to become an even stronger and more flexible partner in an increasingly consolidating market.”

Hoogstraten director Hans Vanderhallen commented: 'In a context in which sectoral challenges have never been so numerous, we could together respond much more efficiently to the needs of the market and accelerate the necessary transformation. The ambition to bring our internal organisation and operation to a higher level is inextricably linked to this. The increase in scale will offer additional opportunities to focus on building a stronger organisation.'

Paul Demyttenaere, director of REO Veiling, added: “The geographical coverage is a very clear complementarity between Coöperatie Hoogstraten and REO Veiling. Together, we can form a connecting axis in the heart of Europe. By joining forces, we are taking a significant step towards greater market strength. A merger would lead to the essential factor in a joint market organisation, namely a larger consolidated supply, and this would strengthen our market position.”