Jumbo supermarket gladly contributes to the local economy

13 June 2017 - Published by Alfred Kazemier
For the Reframe-project we interviewed several companies and organizations that are working on local food chains in several ways. This time we interviewed Frits Gosman who works for the Jumbo Maripaan Group, one of the biggest supermarket concerns in the Netherlands.

The Jumbo Maripaan Group in the North

Consumers are becoming more conscious about what they eat and how they want their food. The supermarket world responds to this like no other. We are constantly busy with this at our stores as well, says Frits Gosman E-Commerce Manager at the Jumbo Maripaan Group from Drachten. In 2002, the first Jumbo Maripaan store was opened in the North of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the franchise company consists of a service office in Drachten and 14 Jumbo supermarkets in the North. The target is 10% less waste and a doubling of the number of customers to 20 million in 2020. “A tough target, but no problem for Jumbo. We pretty much met our previous target of 15 stores in 2015!”

Investing in unique products

The online market is growing and the traditional supermarket is changing. Supermarkets have to have something to offer and experience. Food markets are becoming more standard in the Jumbo supermarkets. “We see that people are becoming more conscious about what they eat and unique products do well, especially local products. And we want to stimulate the regional economy. That’s why we choose local products for our stores. If they are good and unique products that are in demand, and we have confidence in the turnaround, we’ll be willing to invest.”

Buzz in the store

"Another idea we want to try is a local market in the store. Farmers and producers can have their own stand and sell their products. This creates an additional experience in the supermarket and what could be more fun than a weekly local market with local produce! The products that appeal to consumers can then be added to the store. We are keen on making this happen: we continuously follow the wishes of consumers by experimenting and doing. Experimenting is one of the advantages of being an entrepreneur.”

From small to big player

"We started as a small player. In the meantime, we’ve grown into a big party and we can do a lot in the market. We think it’s important that local entrepreneurs have an opportunity to sell their products. Jumbo has worked with many external local suppliers from the start. To keep the supply affordable – our supermarket works with low margins - the Maripaan Group decided to scale up the distribution of local products. Several products now run through one distributor or headquarters. For this reason, various local products can be found in our stores such as Groningen beers and De Kleine Soepfabriek (The Little Soup Factory). The latter also started small, with pans on the fire. They now deliver nationwide and we have their products in our store. We also work a lot with De Zaaister, a big organic supplier from the North. The condition is that the product is unique and that it can handle mass production. “We can’t say ‘no’ to one of our 14 stores, although we do experiment with typical products from Groningen and Friesland. If the product sells well, we then distribute it to our other stores. A good example is honey made in the city of Groningen. I was very fond of it and I would have liked to have in the store. I would have definitely sold it. Unfortunately, the producers could not deliver in large numbers,” said Frits.

Ketentafel Voedsel Stad & Ommeland [Chain Table Food City & Surroundings]

In 2015, the municipality of Groningen founded the Ketentafel Voedsel Stad & Ommeland. More than 30 people from very different organizations joined this table: businesses, government, NGOs, professionals, consumers and students. Frits Gosman has been added on behalf of Jumbo last year. Frits explains: “The chain table gives me a lot. The aim is to encourage cooperation between local products all the way up to the seller. I get to know various parties in the chain and I’m more aware of what’s going on among farmers and other producers. For example, I heard of yellow cauliflowers that are of fine quality but not consumer-worthy because of their colour. This bothered producers. What if we use our green farmers and sell cauliflower against a low price and farmers could get rid of 140 crates. There might be some obstacles in terms of regulation but why shouldn’t we help these farmers? The only thing we need to know is that it is a reliable supplier that delivers quality. The chain table has broadened my network, it keeps me up to date on these issues and I can discuss these in our team.”

In conclusion: the Jumbo Maripaan Group likes to give local entrepreneurs an opportunity, in any form. “We are a big player and can do a lot in the market. We do not abuse our position, on the contrary: if products have an added value, we will help and therefore stimulate the local economy!”