Retailer recognises long-standing partnership with award, acknowledging vegetable seed company’s desire to satisfy future customer demands 

Rijk Zwaan Spar International Award 2022

Spar International named long-standing partner Rijk Zwaan as its Fresh Supplier of the Year at an exclusive business briefing dinner on Tuesday 8 November.

The two companies have been collaborating closely for more than a decade, ceating numerous value chain projects together.

“Rijk Zwaan is an important strategic partner for Spar,” stated Carla Schoeman, sourcing and development manager at Spar International.

“Rijk Zwaan’s vision goes beyond simply supplying vegetable seeds and growing produce. They also look ahead at future customer demands and needs for fresh produce, mapping out the journey with retailers to meet these needs when the time comes.”

Jan Doldersum, manager chain and retail at Rijk Zwaan in the Netherlands, and Gregor Hoffmann, account manager for Rijk Zwaan in Austria, accepted the award on the company’s behalf.

“We are delighted to receive this recognition of everything we have achieved together with Spar over the years by working so closely together,” they said. ”We’re looking forward to continuing our strategic partnership.”

The relationship between the two companies began ten years ago in China and has since been extended to projects in other countries.

“Nowadays, we actually provide three different types services to Spar,” said Doldersum. ”One of them revolves around category growth.

Based on analysis of Spar’s sales data, competitive landscape and the desired growth drivers, we helped the retailer to make choices that would expand the whole category,” he explained. This included advice on how to position the products based on ‘tiering’ (good/better/best), packaging concepts, building private label, in-store presentation techniques and shelf layout. The ultimate aim was to make the category even more profitable.”

According to Hoffmann, this approach resulted in the successful introduction with their supplier Frutura of the year-round cocktail variety, Brioso, as well as Cappricia, a traditional tomato on the vine, and Rugantino, a Coeur de Boeuf type.

The vegetable breeding company is also working together with the supermarket chain in India and South Africa, with projects focused on services related to sourcing and innovation.

“From 2018 to 2021, we were both partners in a project by Wageningen University & Research aimed at setting up local fresh supply chains and opening Spar stores in rural areas to improve the availability of affordable fresh produce for South Africans,” Doldersum outlined. ”Research findings show that this value chain project makes a significant contribution to a more varied diet for people in South Africa, where accessibility to fresh fruit and vegetables is not always a given.”

Additionally, Spar and Rijk Zwaan are introducing SN!BS, which is an example of how the retail chain is responding to the growing consumer demand for healthy snacks.

“As a vegetable breeding company, our vision is to develop innovative vegetable varieties that are aligned with consumer trends and market needs,” Doldersum added. “Together with our partners, we think about new ideas, packaging concepts and sales strategies.

”Ultimately, we all have the same goal: to work together in the value chain to stimulate consumers worldwide to eat more fresh and healthy vegetables.”