Established in 1924, Van Roey & Zonen has grown to become a true family business, in which two generations work to achieve the best potato quality every day. Jef Van Roey, CEO of Van Roey & Zonen commented: “We are a family business, and as a result we can react swiftly and turn orders around quickly. Because we have been operating for many years, we know the quality of our products inside out, which is a real advantage.”
His daughter Nathalie adds: “We were born and brought up here and are really committed to the final product that leaves us.”
Van Roey & Zonen’s most important products are the Bintjes, a potato perfect for chip frying, and varieties of waxy potatoes, such as the Nicola and Charlotte. High quality is very important to the Van Roey family, that’s why they collect their potatoes directly from the farm and manage their own crate storage. This enables them to keep a close eye on the entire process.
Their potato products are usually washed and sorted and packed in sizes from 2.5 kg to 25 kg.
Van Roey & Zonen’s customer portfolio is very varied. In the beginning, the company supplied wholesale markets and was also involved in ship provisioning. These days, it mostly supplies supermarkets and wholesalers, who in turn supply supermarkets and/or restaurants.
FROM MANUAL SORTING TO OPTICAL SORTING
In order to meet the customer’s ever stricter requirements and to reduce the accompanying workload, Van Roey & Zonen decided to seek a new partner for the optical sorting of their potatoes.
“We switched from manual to optical sorting due to its physical nature. Sorting potatoes is a physically challenging job. If you also want to increase productivity and improve potato quality even further, you have to switch to optical sorting.” (Nathalie Van Roey, CEO of Van Roey & Zonen)
Jef continues: “Six years ago we discovered TOMRA, at that time, we were already using an optical sorting machine, but it had become outdated and could no longer cope with customers’ requirements.
The demand is for the potatoes to be more and more attractive, with fewer small blemishes. Also, the size of the potato in the bag must be almost uniform for the consumer. That’s why we decided to look for a new optical sorting machine which could simplify our work, enable us to work more quickly and make the financial picture more attractive.”
Before the business decided to join forces with TOMRA, it consulted with other organisations within the industry and asked them the question: “What is the best sorting machine in your opinion?”
“Our colleagues informed us that they preferred to work with a TOMRA machine because of its user-friendliness and good aftersales service.” (Jef Van Roey, CEO of Van Roey & Zonen)
SORTING IN THREE WAYS
“Our previous sorting machine only enabled us to sort according to colour, but with the new solution from TOMRA, we can do a great deal more. It soon became clear that TOMRA could deliver much better sorting results on the table and greater still in terms of colour sorting. Furthermore, we can now sort in three ways: the dark green and heavily damaged potatoes are processed into cattle feed, the light green potatoes, which feature minimal damage are processed into products such as flour, and the best potatoes are now of even better quality – perfect for the table.”
USER-FRIENDLY AND COMPACT
Nathalie provides an explanation of the installation of the machine: “As part of the installation process, TOMRA provides a two-day training course. Following that we were given a few weeks to practise, before TOMRA returned to provide additional training, or to answer any questions.
An additional plus point about TOMRA, according to Van Roey & Zonen, is that the machine doesn’t occupy a great deal of space. Jef explains: “We didn’t have a huge amount of space available; however the machine is quite compact so we didn’t have to make too many alterations.”
THE FINANCIAL PICTURE
The installation of the TOMRA machine has had a positive effect on Van Roey’s financial results. According to Jef: “Being able to sort three ways should not be underestimated. Not only is much less product now going into cattle feed, we can also get a better price for the proportion that goes to manufacturing (grade 2). In addition, since the installation of the TOMRA machine, our production process has been simplified, our capacity doubled and the remaining manual labor made much easier. In the past, we processed between seven and ten tons of potatoes per hour. With the new sorting machine, we can easily handle double that.”
CUSTOMER IS KING
According to Nathalie, her customers’ reactions have been extremely positive: “The small baby potatoes are now of much better quality and the machine now does 70 percent of the work; we do only around 30 percent. The TOMRA machine can do what we can’t do manually; this especially helps when sorting small potatoes.”