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Groko: one of Europe's savvy producers see big growth in prepared vegetables.

Groko: One of Europe's Savvy Producers Sees Big Growth in Prepared Vegetables

While traveling in Europe recently I had an enlightening and inspiring visit at the Campbell's Groko B.V. plant in Zundert, Holland. Leo F. de Bruijn is managing director of the operation, which has been greatly improved and enlarged since my last visit a few years ago.

Today 60% of Groko's output is under its brand name, while 40% is private label. A new line of "budget meals" has been created, of which 13 items have already been launched to soon be followed by four more. The prepared vegetable dish range includes chicken curry, boeuf bourguignon, vegetarian meal, chile corn in butter sauce, kohlrabi, potato waffles, croquettes, alphabet letters, gratin broccoli, gratin cauliflower and garden spinach.

Groko is said to now be the largest prepared vegetable packer in Europe. Remarked Mr. de Bruijn, "I love new concepts, and I can only say that we have been one of the most profitable divisions of Campbell in the past 10 years. I am happy under their banner, and we have justified the investments made by ITT and Campbell."

The company's turnover for 1989 was expected to reach $40-million on sales of almost 38,400 tons, exceeding budget projections by 10%. Volume breaks down as follows: 13,550 tons of prepared vegetables; 600 tons of prepared meals; 5,580 tons of potato products (which include balls, waffles, etc.), plus 18,662 tons of commodity vegetables.

Some 40% of sales is realized in the Dutch domestic market (50% of which is private label), while 60% come from exports. The lion's share of 34% goes to Germany, where Groko has its own office. Eight percent is sold in Belgium, 7% to the U.K., 9.5% to France (where another company office is situated), and 2.5% goes to other countries such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, etc.

Altogether, Groko's 343 employees produce 85 products and 815 different types of packs. Production takes place from April 15 to early January, with plant utilization being from 88-90%. On-site storage capacity is put at 10,000 tons.

State-of-art equipment has recently been added to the factory, which has been physically expanded with an expenditure of some $200,000. Offices are very attractive and large, having been transformed from what was originally a police barracks. Construction is constantly going on as evidenced by a third floor currently being added above the factory to provide dressing rooms for workers.

It should be noted that the whole production operation is automated and computerized, more so than most FF factories this writer has toured. For instance, in-plant delivery of products from one line to another is done by robots on rails which have replaced some trucks, thus making for quicker and smoother throughput.

Some of the other modern machinery seen included filling equipment from Rovema, Hema and Kliklock, as well as STAL-Samifi automatic freezer.

PHOTO : The prepared meals kitchen is a relatively new addition to the Groko factory.

PHOTO : Groko's modern filling machines make the job of packing red cabbage with apple fast and easy.

PHOTO : Leo F. de Bruijn, managing director of Campbell's Groko B.V., reviews a copy of Quick Frozen Foods International.

PHOTO : While not especially heavy in potato production, the vegetable specialist nonetheless turns out a number of such value-added products.
COPYRIGHT 1990 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Market Survey; Campbell's Groko B.V. Holland
Author:Williams, E.W.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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