Tholen – This week, Case Wantenaar resigned as Chairman of the Board of Directors of GroentenFruit Huis. During GMM, Kees received many praises for the way he performed the role of Chairman. “I look back fondly and am grateful that I was able to say goodbye in this way.”
Prior to joining the DPA at the time, Kees had made his fortune in the dairy business. As president of Campina, for example, he was closely involved in the merger with Friesland Food, which led to the creation of Royal Friesland Campina, of which he was chairman of the supervisory board until 2012. He also ran a dairy farm and concluded his dairy management role as chair of the Dairy Council. Case was also Chairman of the Plus Retail Supervisory Board until 2022, when he merged with Coop.
Fresh products vs dairy products
“In 2013, they looked for an independent CEO at DPA, and that’s how I ended up in the fruit and vegetable business,” Case looks back. “At the time, I was regularly asked about the biggest differences between the fresh and dairy sectors. At the time, I indicated that I thought the advocacy in dairy was more straightforward, but I won’t say that anymore. Today, the number of interest groups in the dairy sector has increased. The fruit and vegetable sector is getting smaller. This is complementary to the fruit and vegetable sector. The interests are simply too big to be played.”
A bag surrounded by his family during his farewell this week
Kiss quickly felt at home within the fresh produce segment. “I only really knew about the sector when I came here. But when you come on a visit to a company and you see how passionate and knowledgeable the people are, it gives you a lot of energy. And the whole Dutch fruit and vegetable sector, both in agriculture and import and export, is of course a player Critical internationally, he is a pioneer in all of the links. However, I think he has made a difference because I have a leadership background and thus have been able to empathize with this issue.”
Kees was initially Chairman of the Board of Directors of DPA and played an important role in the creation of DPA and Frugi Venta at GroentenFruit Huis, and subsequently became Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2017. “Organizationally speaking, this was the biggest challenge and thus the merger took place in several steps. I enjoyed driving this process. It is not always a smooth process. When two organizations are merging, sometimes you have to take two steps to move forward and the trick after that is to keep the peace so that you are still able to move forward with these steps, chain thinking has taken an increasingly central place In the fruit and vegetable sector, this has been reflected in the formation of GroentenFruit Huis. There are different business interests and competing positions – you have to accept that too – as long as you see the greater importance of the chain.” He does not want to burden his successor with whether a merger with parties such as LTO or NAO is clear. “I think it’s very important that you know how to find each other in the places where you touch each other and that you have an unmistakable story in Brussels and The Hague.”
The Russian provincial sack does not forget, soon after he took the post of head of the DPA. “Then the relationship between Russia and the European Union became very substantive and it is again today. The boycott had dire consequences for a number of individual companies. If trade flows do not recover, the trick is to keep your product and your business position in the hands of course largely up to the companies themselves, But as an interest group, we naturally tried to apply the necessary pressure. Sales differed greatly for each company, but also in terms of the labor that had to be delivered by the Dutch and foreigners.”
congruence of thinking
“I think it is good that the chain sees more importance of the pressure that is happening in Brussels and The Hague. I think there has been more congruence in thinking about this within the whole sector. Although not everything leads to results and you do not always achieve some goals. . are realized; there is more support for it than there was, say, ten years ago,” says Case. “And sometimes you don’t see the results until later. For example, we indicated a few years ago that something had to be done with the value-added tax on fruit and vegetables, and now it seems that steps will be taken in this file. It will be a good result.”
The driver should think more about the issues on which he might want to make his mark the most. Finally, it comes to the data topic. “In my opinion, as a sector, we should take faster steps there in terms of the entire footprint. I would have liked the significance of this to be across the entire chain.” He is proud of the position of the sector in the field of health. “We have a privilege in the fruit and vegetable sector because we are in a very strong position in terms of public health. The image of our successor, Kathy van Beek, fits perfectly with this and will undoubtedly give it more substance. So great that she looks very enthusiastically at the sector from her background.”
Kess Wantener, literally and figuratively speaking, hands the wand to Cathy Van Beek.
On average, Case worked with the presidency one day a week. “Some weeks it was less, other weeks it was definitely more, but overall I figured it out. I’m 72 now so it’s also a good time to wind down administrative work, especially if you can do it in good health. Keys concludes:” I have enjoyed my presidency and look back at all the years with gratitude.” A return to the fruit and vegetable sector is not expected. “The job here and there will still go well, but I certainly won’t get in people’s way. The main business is now behind us. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the companies a lot of success. A healthy member base is also of great importance to GroentenFruit Huis and therefore to the entire sector! “