Discover Benelux, Issue 38, February 2017

Page 58

Discover Benelux  |  Food & drink  |  A Taste of Belgium

From one store to a multinational company TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: GROUP A. DE WITTE

If you have ever bought a clementine or a strawberry in Belgium, it would be almost impossible for it to not be imported, produced or delivered by Group A. De Witte. They make sure you only get the best fruits out there.

that just having more stores would not be enough,” elaborates Vermoere. So, in the late 1980s, he bought the first wholesale company. It marked the beginning of the Group A. De Witte. “From there on we grew in every step of the chain, from importing fruit, selling it via wholesale and in stores, exporting them and having our own transportation and packaging solutions.” Even though the group grew internationally, it still remained a family business, with Achiel’s son Jurgen entering and now leading the daily operations.

What started with a single vegetable store by Achiel De Witte some 40 years ago, has grown into an international group that imports fruit and vegetables from over 75 countries and exports them to more than 15 countries. The company’s headquarters are in Brussels, there are 24 branches throughout Belgium and the Netherlands and they have almost 600 employees.

Cibel and Cebon

“Fruit and vegetables have always been a part of the De Witte family,” explains Stijn Vermoere of Group A. De Witte. “So it was a natural step for Achiel to have a shop of his own. From there, the growth just came organically.” It was not just about having more stores for Achiel de Witte. “First there came more shops, but Achiel felt

The company is particularly proud of their own brand of high-quality oranges and clementines, called Cibel. “These are top-quality citrus fruits we import from Spain and South Africa. We import from those two countries, so that we can ensure a year-round availability of these great fruits,” says Vermoere. Cibel is one of the top-quality brands in Belgium.

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Throughout the years, quality has always been of the highest importance. That is why the group created Cebon, a quality mark to make sure only the best products are being sold. Vermoere: “The growers are specially chosen, and the fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are being checked all the time.” If they do not match the standards, Group A. De Witte will not sell them. “Our people work day in and day out to make sure you get the best fruits and vegetables available.”