It all started with a question
Whilst looking for a thesis subject for his final year at the Higher Agricultural School in 1998, Marco took a critical look around him during his work at pepper grower Karel Vromans.
His Saturdays were always spent sorting out the class 2 peppers. Marco wanted to know the difference in yield between class 1 peppers, which have a good shape, colour and taste and class 2 peppers, which really only differed in shape when compared to the better class. There appeared to be a difference of 3 guilders per kilo. And purely because of their deformity. This is a great deal of money, which gave Marco the following idea:
Could we start supplying a cut version of the class 2 peppers? This will ensure you can’t see the deformity and may well increase the sales value somewhat.
No sooner said than done. Marco’s thesis assignment became a feasibility study into the establishment of a vegetable processing company. And successfully too. Snijpunt was founded and started supplying halved peppers.
Practice makes perfect
The first three years were anything but easy. There was still a great deal to learn about costs, quality, bacteria, etc. A great deal changed within a short period of time. Whereas the peppers were initially cut on pallets in the barn, it quickly became apparent this needed to be done in a cold store. This subsequently allowed us to prevent many of the quality problems.
We were first able to start supplying the UK in 2001, with 1 good production line under control and a BRC certification to our name. One of the UK market’s major players, Geest Plc, wanted to launch an exclusive pilot project for the supply of a number of their factories. We started off with supplying 2 locations. In the meantime, the experts at Geest Plc provided us with advice regarding improvement possibilities where quality and hygiene were concerned. Our other customers are still enjoying the benefits of this advice every single day.
Growth in volume and sales channels
A second production line was installed in 2002, in order to cope with demands from the UK market. As our 300m2 production area could no longer meet demands and as we were not yet permitted to build on the land we had purchased, we decided to move to a temporary location in Poortcamp in 2005. We had a production area measuring 850 m2 and our own 3 docks at our disposal here. A good interim solution, but, as a result of the strong growth we experienced, in hindsight an insufficient one. We did absolutely everything within our power to use this space to continue to satisfy demand and the quality requirements, whilst waiting for our building permit.
Unfortunately the initial success we experienced with the UK collaboration did not prove to be permanent. The takeover of Geest Plc resulted in a change to the needs where the delivery times and frequency were concerned. Logistically it became increasingly more difficult to continue to guarantee the required level of service. Once the fire in the tunnel to the UK and the collapse of the value of the pound were added to the equation, the UK was no longer our biggest export country alongside Scandinavia and Belgium.
Learning to speak German
Production certainly isn’t the only area which has experienced growth, the team has definitely also seen a significant increase in size throughout the years and consisted of 4 people in 2006. The partial loss of the UK market created scope for a new major market to be conquered. The team’s eyes were focussed on Germany. However, there was one major problem, as no one had a sufficient enough grasp of the language to really be able to do achieve something here. There may well have been sufficient command of the language according to Dutch standards, but we really felt we needed to do this properly. So we decided on German lessons. For all of us.
We embarked on exploring the German convenience market once we felt we had mastered the language. We intensively started with personal customer visits and free trial samples once we had mapped out the potential customers.
We were certainly awarded for this well thought out approach. Our exports to Germany became a fact in 2007. Our German exports now represent a healthy 30% of our total sales. Naturally something we are quite proud of.
The building permits for our own piece of land within the same industrial estate were finally issued in 2008, allowing us to start building our own production location. The new building was completed in 2009 and we moved to a location which was completely ours and which had been built and furnished in line with our exact vision where efficiency, hygiene, quality and service were concerned. And where there was an impressive 2200m2 of production space available for our use.
We set up a second brochette line at this location in 2010, allowing us to double the capacity of 30x30 blocks, used for processing in shasliks.
We started with importing our own raw materials from Spain soon after Snijpunt’s foundation. Allowing us to also be able to provide our customers with a guarantee for complete reliability and quality during the winter months.
Initially this was realised via cooperations and various sales organisations. We set up direct contact with the growers since 2011. This allows us to keep better control of the quality, freshness and delivery reliability of our products.
These growers are still our regular suppliers. The acreage has now grown from 4 to 32 hectares.
We are currently working with a team of 30 to 90 people, depending on the current demand. The team is also regularly supported by work experience students. Our range consists of 14 different products, available in various different shapes and sizes.
But we’re not done yet. We are continuing to immerse ourselves in efficiency, food safety and innovation. Plus we are also always on the lookout for additions to our range, or to enter into collaborations which our customers would benefit from and we will continue to look for companies we can supply with our knowledge, expertise and suitable products.