Packaging contributes to customer service
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Packaging contributes to customer service

  • 11 October 2021
  • Door: Marjolein Straatman

Belgian company DECO Frites delivers potatoes peeled and cut into chips to its own region, and to a part of the southern Netherlands. Service and quality are of paramount importance. A new packaging machine helps to keep both up to standard.

'Our sales area is deliberately not very large. That way, we can quickly reach our customers and maintain a high level of service'.

When you think of Belgium, you naturally think of fries. The potato snack has lost little of its popularity over the years. Just over the border in Wuustwezel, the Belgian company DECO Frites ensures that part of the hospitality industry in their own region and in our country can serve their tasty fries. The family business has been supplying potatoes since 1975 and has a product range that further includes chunks (large peeled potatoes), wedges and small potatoes. The Bintjes, Frieslanders and Agria potatoes used for these products are partly home grown. 

24/7 fries

For Eddy De Coster and his daughter Sofie, a number of values are crucial to their business. Providing service is particularly prominent. It helps them build a good relationship with the customer. "Our sales area is deliberately not too large. This allows us to get to our customers quickly and maintain a high level of service. We strive for personal contact and visit customers ourselves if they have questions or problems. We also make Sunday deliveries to everyone. And if there is an emergency and a chance of things getting out of hand, our customers can always -24/7- contact our refrigeration department themselves. Flexibility and trust are important," says Sofie. 

Another deeply rooted value in the family business is the pursuit of high quality and the search for the right product. A potato can be very tasty but still not satisfy everyone, Eddy knows: "For a good result after preparation of fries or other potato products, more factors play a role. Take the frying method and the oil or butter used, for example. Sometimes the fries are just too brown. We always strive to find the best potato for the customer."

Trust

Maintaining high service and quality requires not only boundless dedication, but also well-oiled processes on the production floor. This became clear once again last year when the packaging machine of the Wuustwezel company showed signs of wear and tear. The result: broken packaging every now and then. It was the last thing father and daughter were waiting for. Time for a new machine. Eventually, the Belgians turned to Repak. The company from Emmen specialises in thermoformed packaging machines and has been supplying packaging solutions to sectors such as meat and meat products, dairy, poultry, fish and bread for over 35 years. For some time now the company has been partly focusing on Belgium.

Eddy visited the factory in Emmen twice to get an idea of the possibilities, and of the people behind the machines. "Doing business is based on trust. It has to feel good," he says. We immediately connected with Repak. This may be because the machine supplier shares the same opinion, says Area Sales Manager Eelco van Schaik: "We, too, build good and long-term relationships. The combination of Repak's years of experience in the potato industry and the specific expertise of the De Coster family enabled us to determine the ideal machine configuration for DECO Frites. As a result, we have a solution that is optimally deployable for the potato processing industry."

From left to right: Sofie and Eddy De Coster, Eelco van Schaik

The machine

The thermoforming packaging machine is used for very diverse products and by heating the bottom film and a mould it can form a package to any desired size. For DECO Frites, the machine has several advantages. "In the new situation, we save on gas. In addition, the packages are now more compact and flatter after the vacuum process. They take up less space and are easier to stack. That is beneficial for our transport, but also for our customers' storage," says Eddy. 

He says the new machine has also increased the shelf life of the products by at least one day. With the installation of the new packaging line, Repak took a closer look at the vacuum packaging function. "We were aiming for the best shelf life and wanted to prevent moisture being extracted from the potatoes and causing them to discolour. This ensures that DECO Frites' products have the best possible presentation and appearance", says Eelco. This also clearly meets a need. Customers have become more demanding over the years, Sofie notes. "People eat with their eyes more and more these days. Not only do the products have to be very good, but they also have to look good."

www.decosterbvba.be
www.repak.nl 

Photos: © Roel Dijkstra fotografie

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2021