The first year of ...
Lore Van Aert, purchaser
On 1 October 2019 I left a bit nervous, but with full enthusiasm towards the Transport Zone in Meer - my first day at Special Fruit and the starting shot for a fruity future. Some key words that could summarize this first day: cordial family, many new faces, almost as many forklifts, even more strawberries + raspberries + pomegranates....., but above all a warm welcome!
As is often the case with a new start, the best way is: learning by doing. That was certainly the case during my first weeks at Special Fruit. From logistics, to production, to quality control, to accounting, ..... all departments were passed over. A real immersion in the world of berries and exotic fruit and vegetables. The focus here was on the products I was going to buy in the future: the exotics group. Besides the product knowledge I gained during these inspiring weeks, this was also a good way to give those many faces of day 1 a proper name. What I especially remember from those first weeks is that it really isn't that difficult to cut a mango easily. And even better: I can finally stone a pomegranate without smearing the whole kitchen.
Well, after a few weeks of immersion in the fruit bath, it was time to join my team of buyers. In a job as a buyer, not a single day is identical. The fruit world is a volatile sector in which, as Newton's law says, "action and reaction" is an important factor. Especially with the holidays approaching, a busy and active period awaited us. Immediately the good schooling, under the supervision of my close colleagues. I learned how to network with suppliers, assess quality, have no fear of the phone, estimate stock volumes, ..... There was a lot to do during that period, but how instructive it was!
After the party period it was time to prepare for my first trade fair: the Fruit Logistica in Berlin. I was finally able to put a face to all those southern supplier names. It's always more fun to talk on the phone and do business with someone if you know who's on the other end of the line. I also got to know a lot of different kinds of fruit and vegetables, but also people, what a big sector!
After the fair I had an even better view on the whole business and I could now really get to work as a buyer in the exotics. Pomegranates by sea from Peru, baby corn by airfreight from Thailand, sweet potatoes by truck from Spain, ...... Step by step I learned more about all the products. Still with a lot of attention for the operational part. For fresh arrivals, I often, if possible, went along with the quality checks and assessed the product myself.
Besides working, we also did fun activities with colleagues: staff party, selling exotic packages, eating mango ice creams, volleyball, ...... Unfortunately, Covid is now putting a stop to this, which saves those fun moments for later. But we certainly try to keep in touch online as much as possible. Because we now work at home so often, I also miss the occasional visit to our warehouse to see the products for myself. Fortunately, my colleagues in the warehouse still keep me up to date by email and phone about the products and their quality. Now that we can't look at the products in the warehouse as much, I often try to make delicious dishes at home as well. A real exotic recommendation