Fruit grower Lion Kniest from Baarlo on his vision of the short chain approach

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11 January 2019

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"It is a false assumption that striving for short chains is only about having as few links as possible within the chain. chains is only about as few links as possible within the chain. Because often every link adds value in some way. The trick is to see that value and then to capitalize on it, According to fruit grower Lion Kniest from Baarlo.

The Limburg Morel

Kniest runs the Fruit Farm together with his wife Susanne Görtz and sister-in-law Andrea Görtz the Fruit Farm in Baarlo. Under this name they run three vacation cottages and they grow different types of apples, pears mirabelles, plums and fresh sour cherries, or morello cherries. And the latter last, the morello cherries, have been enjoying a bit more attention since last year. The The result of a collaboration between the Fruit Farm and seven other Limburg fruit growers. For example, since 2018 the morel has been a recognized Limburg regional product and more and more bakers are using the unique cherry as a fruit on their Limburg flan. The short chain approach lies at the basis of these fine successes.

The harvest of the Morels at the Fruit Farm in Baarlo

Colouring page

From this approach, the eight fruit growers, united in the cooperative the Limburg Morel, mapped out the chain. For example, they sold For instance, they sold the morel to the canning factory, an important link in the chain, but hardly knew what else happened to it. happened with it. "So we threw away the well-defined coloring sheet and sat down at the drawing board ourselves," Kniest says. "And when you draw the And when you draw the chain, you see that every link actually adds value: the grower provides the cherries, the cannery then makes them The baker's trade takes care of the marketing, logistics and communication marketing, logistics and communication, the baker makes the flan and ultimately the customer buys the end product. the final product. Conclusion: everyone has a value. A function."


An important and indispensable function according to Kniest and his fellow growers. So the morel growers have not eliminated links within the chain, but they have added something: transparency. Specifically, each link knows what and how much is being earned. "If you If you don't know something, you start making assumptions. Sometimes wrong assumptions. For example: if you have a bad price as a grower and the person you are working with working with drives by in a big car, you are quick to think: 'he earned that from me'. he earned that from me'. But it could just as easily be a lease car, you don't know", explains Kniest. You don't know," explains Kniest. "By engaging in conversation, you know exactly what the other person is doing, what they want, and you can make a better product offering. That applies not only to the production of the morel, but also for the logistics and other processes within the chain."


The new drawing also showed that all links within the chain need financial stability. "That's why we threw out the fluctuations out of it by setting prices for a long term set: so this is the price and everyone keeps their margins. And yes, one one year it works out better than the next. But you shouldn't look look at it too much, the long term is the focus. In the end, you know that this approach is the most beneficial for all parties."

Because the morel chain is now more transparent, Kniest can for example, be able to use the net and gross prices from the bakery wholesaler use to convince bakers of the Limburg morel. "We can now map out the difference in costs compared to the Eastern European cherry competition. And more and more bakers are switching to the genuine Limburg morel."


This short chain vision and approach in which the links work together and are short on each other, is not new. "In fact, we have copied and improved it. After all, Facebook wasn't the first either." explains Kniest. Kollenberger Spelt served as an example. They have made the chain transparent according to the fair pricing principle. This means that the grower gets a fixed price for the long term. And within the chain everyone knows what the costs and revenues are.

"The disadvantage now is that the price difference with Eastern European cherries is big. is large. Last year the price difference per can was € 0.20 cents and now it's € 1.30," says Kniest. 1.30," says Kniest. "Last year we could also have managed with a less strong story at the bakery. Because the price difference is smaller, you logically change your mind more easily. Now we have to convince the baker convince the baker, so that he himself is convinced that he is going to use the the Limburg morel. But then again, so did the Kollenberger Spelt has had that too."

Iron patience

Together, Kniest speaks of an excellent start year. "Now it is a matter of expand further. To grow. Otherwise you become a niche within a niche. The label 'forgotten fruit' is then lurking, something we don't want." The whole process did require iron patience and good coordination. And it still does. For example, under the guidance of Wiro Nelissen, it took two to three years to find each other, build up trust and get in line. to find each other, build up trust and get on the same wavelength. come to an understanding.


But with the morale itself, transparency, collaboration, a strong story and persuasion, morel growers are not there yet. Creating awareness is the next challenge, according to Kniest. "Bakers have heard of it, but they have a broad assortment and we are talking about one product in his store. After all, it would be nice bakers opt more for fruit from Limburg, so that other fruit growers can also follow suit. can also catch up."