In 2018, Dacomex, the Dutch exporter of onions and potatoes, drew up the first plans for its new building. This summer, the new production line for the new warehouse was completed. Maarten van Damme, who represents the fourth generation of this family business, is delighted with the expansion. “Instead of 40 tonnes, we can now process up to 70 tonnes of onions per hour.”
Not that the only intention was to do larger volumes. The onion exporter also wanted to become much more flexible. “We had insufficient capacity during peak periods. So we had to buy a lot of onions from other companies. Our machinery also needed to be replaced. That is why we immediately took the bull by the horns.
“We’ve always been a real African player. So we’re busier in the fall than in the early months of the season. I do most of the sales for Africa on Monday. That’s because the ships have to sail. at the end of the week. Sometimes orders would come in on Tuesday. And our fellow packers couldn’t accommodate us. Then we had to turn away customers. We wanted to stop doing that, “says Maarten.
“We want to continue to work in partnership with the packers we have worked with for years. We will not give up on the relationship we have built over the years. However, we can now work more serenely if a new customer contacts us. And we can deliver larger volumes to our existing buyers. As we continue to automate, we also mainly continue to work with the same group of people. We can easily speed up new machines. This makes us more flexible and allows us to further reduce production costs. “
Eqraft, prime contractor
Dacomex took this opportunity to draw inspiration for its new site from several other onion packaging companies. “Everyone made us feel really welcome, both the direct competitors and the packers who supply us. We really appreciate that, ”continues Maarten. After checking the machine suppliers, the final choice fell on Eqraft. As the main contractor, Eqraft developed the plans and took care of the overall coordination.
“It worked perfectly for us. Eqraft is a true onion specialist. They supplied edgers, measuring rooms, regular throughputs, tilting hoppers, wrapping machines and conveyor belts. Eqraft, several other companies with a proven track record in the onion sector have cooperated in this project. “
Dacomex has deliberately chosen not to optically sort. “We are not ruling out this for the future. And we’ve built in the ability to switch to optical sorting with some pretty straightforward adjustments. But that doesn’t make financial sense right now. Optical sorting technology is still in development. For us it was just too expensive. That is why we have opted for a conventional line for now, ”adds Van Damme.
The main advantage of the company is that it has a lot of space to develop. “The location of the new warehouse was once our dump and truck parking lot. So we had all the space we needed to build a warehouse, including a new parking lot. We immediately added 20 reefer and bottom-dumper connectors. . ”
Dacomex has also always marketed onions as well as potatoes. “When Russia was still open, we made more potatoes than onions. In recent years, however, the proportion of onions has increased more than of potatoes. Africa represents 60% of our sales; the UK is our second largest buyer. We sell to South America and the Far East too, ”says Maarten.
Many export opportunities
The local culture is increasing every year in major selling countries like Senegal. Despite this, Maarten is optimistic about the future of onion exports. “But we have to face the fact that the narrowing window in which the market is open. And [in the Netherlands], the volumes are only increasing. With potatoes, I think Senegal could become self-sufficient, but not with onions. Their population is growing enormously. “
“So for now we can still sell our onions there. I think this season, just like last year, we will be able to export in abundance. That as long as the containers are available. But there are more. hijackers on this coast. We saw it in June, for example. Our onions were about to come out of the market. And Morocco was serving the African market with high quality onions.
“We also have to maintain the quality in the Netherlands. We can send our onions all over the world. Nevertheless, the quality of some plots is certainly deteriorating rapidly. Over the years, onions have been a profitable crop. continue to cultivate the regions that produce the best quality onions. Otherwise we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot. It is more important to consider the maximum quality than the maximum tonnage, ”concludes Maarten.
Martin van Damme
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+ 31 527 256 130