Complete transparency at Groothedde
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Complete transparency at Groothedde

  • 14 April 2015
  • By: Judith Witte

Meat specialist Groothedde based in the Dutch town of Vaassen supplies beef and pork from carefully selected suppliers, primarily to retailers, the meat processing industry and foodservice/wholesale customers. How does the company keep its customers as well as its suppliers satisfied? Father and son Henny and René Groothedde explain their approach here.

Groothedde sources its products from carefully selected suppliers, largely from abroad, and distributes them to customers in The Netherlands. “By working with a wide variety of suppliers throughout the whole of Europe, we are able to guarantee a continual supply of consistently high-quality products,” says Henny. He shares the day-to-day management activities with his sons Jos and René. Groothedde provides advice to suppliers and customers alike, such as about quality assurance or about local differences in meat usage, meat consumption and legislation. Henny: “We regard ourselves as being a linchpin in the supply chain; we take care of everything for our customers. Our company is built on a focus on quality, transparency, animal welfare and the environment. At its heart is our fundamental desire to relieve the burden on both producers and customers.

High-quality products

“We supply a wide variety of high-quality products which are precisely aligned with our customers’ specifications, from primal cuts to individually packed meat products. And that’s our strength, I think,” comments René. “We understand the customer specifications and have intensive contact with the producers. In the case of a new product, someone from our company will always be present to supervise and monitor the process. We perform professional quality checks, coordinate the agreed cuts and take care of the logistics.”
Henny adds: “We reveal new possiblilities, which is interesting for all our partners – suppliers and customers alike. A grocery retailer can benefit from our knowledge, since we share information openly and honestly. After all, it’s also in our interest to be honest. We are well aware of the fact that any untruths will reflect badly on us in the end, and we are very keen to avoid that.”

Clear conscience

Not that the company has anything to hide – quite the opposite, in fact. Groothedde regularly takes supermarket buyers and other customers to visit its suppliers to show them how the animals are reared and where the slaughtering and deboning takes place. Conversely, suppliers are taken to visit the retailers and other customers to see how their products are sold. When asked whether this approach is one of the reasons behind the company’s success, Henny answers with a resounding “Yes!”, which causes René to laugh before adding: “We are focused on supplying only high-quality products with a clear conscience; transport, the environment, animal welfare, a completely transparent chain, you name it – everything has to be right. We only want to supply products which we ourselves fully believe in.”  

'This is an interesting project not only for farmers, but also for customers. It benefits the whole chain' 

Animal welfare

Therefore, animal welfare and environmental initiatives are a top priority for Groothedde.
“We source our products from companies which are at the forefront in terms of animal welfare and sustainability and we continually monitor their compliance with the rules. For example, we supply pork from Tönnies Fleisch in Germany which is the most modern pig slaughterhouse and processing facility in Europe. We visit supplying companies 6 to 7 times a year, so we know exactly what goes on there. We also conduct our own audits.”
Irish beef is sourced exclusively from the ABP Food Group, a major European beef processor. ABP is continually investing, not only in its companies but also in training for its employees at all levels. Henny Groothedde: “ABP has been working to improve animal welfare and sustainability for many years. The meat that we import comes from farms that are members of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme. The auditing and certification processes at those farms are accredited in line with the EN 45011 standard.”

Heritage cattle breeds

Groothedde has been involved as a collaborative partner in a Dutch project for heritage cattle breeds since 2010. In the ‘Stichting Natuurboer uit de Buurt’ (Local Natural Farmer) foundation, all partners are committed to producing tasty meat products while protecting and preserving nature, the countryside and various Dutch heritage cattle breeds. At least 25% of the grazing area for the cattle is on semi-natural land and/or in the countryside. Groothedde assures participating farmers of a sales channel for their products. “The care given to the animals, the diversity of grasses and herbs, the limited use of fertilisation – you can taste the difference in the products. This is an interesting project not only for farmers, but also for customers. It benefits the whole chain.”

Nowhere else

“The quality of the meat is really good,” agrees René. “And here, too, our conscience is clear. The animals follow a natural diet of grass and herbs. They are not subjected to the stress of long-distance transport; slaughtering is done locally in slaughterhouses that have been audited by our own quality department. We want to be sure that the quality and hygiene are up to scratch.”
Henny: “Participating in this project has led to us winning several major new customers. Those companies initially sourced only the heritage beef from us, but they gradually got to know us and our working methods better and they now order the rest of their meat from us too. It makes me truly happy when our customers are happy – when they say, ‘You don’t get service and support like this anywhere else’.”

'We only want to supply products which we ourselves fully believe in'


Partnership, customer satisfaction, unburdening, transparency, honesty and a clear conscience: all those factors are a common thread running through Groothedde’s approach.
Henny: “We asked if the Irish beef could be supplied in a different manner for one of our customers. The supplier’s initial response was: ‘That will be too expensive’. We know that customisation and different cuts come at a price, so if you are going to cut and pack the meat differently then a surcharge will have to be calculated. But if the customer is prepared to pay for the extra cost then it’s not ‘too expensive’.”


Complete transparency is becoming ever-more important – essential, even, according to the father-and-son team. “Food scandals such as the horsemeat affair have actually helped us in that respect; we’ve been able to benefit from them,” says Henny. “Over the past two years, there’s been a shift in the market. Previously the focus tended to be on the lowest price possible. Nowadays it’s much more a case of ‘Does everything add up?’. We provide full traceability, and that’s hugely appreciated.”

Source: Groothedde