Productivity has been the focus in Dutch agriculture for many decades. However, at present, other aspects of food production have received increasingly more attention. One of the aspects that have been scrutinized is the length of the current supply chains for which the platform, Pommeron, seeks to find a solution. Pommeron is an initiative that facilitates shorter chains in the agricultural sector of Limburg. The founder of Pommeron, Ron Mulders, says that he found inspiration in different sources: “When I was the managing director of a fresh produce auction in Venlo, I saw how big the distance between individual growers and their customers was: the customers didn’t know who was producing their fresh produce and likewise, the growers didn’t know who was buying them. As a result, fresh fruits and vegetables became commodities. By creating Pommeron, I aimed not only to shorten the agricultural supply chain but also to de-commoditize agricultural goods.”
“There’s a market opportunity for farmers that don’t produce commodities”, says Mulders. “However, for these producers, it’s hard to find the suitable supply chain: most of the supply chains are organized around commodities and if you don’t want to make commodities, you will need to find another way to sell your product.” Pommeron facilitates those food producers who are seeking such an alternative supply chain.
The users of Pommeron can make an account as a buyer or as a producer of fruits and vegetables. “Producers are motivated to emphasize what makes their product special”, says Ron Mulders. “I am sure that if you are an owner of a restaurant or if you represent a healthcare institution you would like to offer your customers fresh produce coming from your own region, from the farmers motivated to work on the quality of their products.”
Shorter supply chains are beneficial for both producer and consumer: “With a shorter supply the consumer can buy directly from the producer, this results in lower costs and fresher produce on your shelves or plates. By employing shorter supply chains, you avoid all the costs that don’t add value to the product”, says Mulders. “Additionally, by avoiding the ‘middleman’, you create a feedback loop for the buyer and the producer, which facilitates the quality improvement of the produce. As in any job, the producer can only improve when he/she knows how to improve. Feedback directly from the people who buy or consume your product, can thus only lead to higher quality products.”
Ron Mulders shares his thoughts on the emergence of initiatives that support shorter supply chains in the food sector: “Perhaps it’s a reaction to the fact that the production and the distribution of the fresh produce are now on such a scale that it makes farmers anonymous. Closing the gap between the customers and the producers helps to rebuild the trust between the farmer and costumer.”