From fresh-cut fruits to ready-to-eat salads, the UK’s fresh produce sector has spent much of the last decade searching for convenient solutions that can help boost consumption levels and sales. Results have been positive, but Dutch vegetable snacking specialist Greenco believes the UK still has a way to go. Produce Business UK reports
Based in two sites, near Rotterdam and Eindhoven, Greenco specialises in the production and sale, through partner distributors, of snacking vegetables – specifically mini-cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.
Produced almost exclusively in the Netherlands, the products are marketed under Greenco’s own Tommies brand, as well partner company The Greenery’s Sweet Energy, Fred & Ed, and Zwerge brand names. Operating in the Dutch market for the past 11 years, Greenco is owned by six shareholders, who have been part of the business since its beginnings, and employs 300-500 people depending on the season.
Following success in its domestic market, the company now views the UK as a key market for future growth, based on its research that has found there remain opportunities to be taken in the healthy snacking category for products such as mini-vegetables.
Greenco mainly sells to Asda, and on occasion other retailers, in the UK, but Greenco marketing manager Yvonne Vanlier says the country is an important target market for the company, alongside Germany and the Nordic states.
“The UK is a very important market for us – it’s one of the countries where we really want to grow and that has to do with the opportunities we see in the UK, because over the last 10 years we have grown this category in the Netherlands and we think that it is possible in there [the UK] as well,” she says.
Better bar snacks
Vanlier believes, given the right level of marketing and communications, Greenco’s entire range could perform well in both retail and foodservice in the UK if presented in the manner that has proven so successful in its domestic market.
“What we do in Holland is present it as a healthy alternative to all kinds of things you eat in-between meals, such as in bars, but in the UK it’s not really presented as a snack,” she explains. “There are mini-cucumbers and mini-tomatoes but they are not really labeled as [for] snacking. What we have done, not only in retail but also in foodservice and out-of-home channels such as sports [centres], schools and offices, is to position the products with different packaging suitable for the occasion and that’s why we think the UK could also benefit from this.”
An example of this, she says, is the same range of mini-vegetables that can be specially packaged alongside a whole communications programme for individual clients, such as sports clubs.
However, Greenco’s confidence in the product range is not based on mere speculation. Along with other industry peers, Greenco collaborated with the University of Wageningen on a recently released study looking at how to encourage healthy eating habits in the workplace, which found that offering snack vegetables during meetings was an effective way to increase vegetable consumption levels.
The study looked at what effect supplying snacking vegetables to meeting rooms and company restaurants would have over several weeks and discovered “very promising” results. In fact, the project, titled More Fruit and Vegetables for Everyone, found that delegates would eat an average of 30% of the recommended daily amount of vegetables during meetings.
Greenco exhibited at The London Produce Show and Conference on June 8-10, and Vanlier also spoke as part of the seminar programme highlighting the marketing behind the mini-vegetables and what it has done to help with category grow in The Netherlands.