Huey Van Vliet is a Sales Manager for Fonterra in the Netherlands. He sells commodity ingredients within the European market and also leads the market insights for the European region. Fonterra is a global dairy nutrition company, a world-leading dairy exporter and is owned by 10,000 farmers. With a large team of employees spread across the globe, staying on top of market trends is vital for strategy and decision-making.
Please tell us a bit more about Fonterra and what Vesper does for your business
At Fonterra it’s really important to understand what is going on in Europe because in all of our export markets for Fonterra (China, South East Asia, Middle East etc) a lot of the competition is coming from Europe, so if we have a good idea about what prices, supply and all of the other variables are doing – we can feed that information back to New Zealand and that helps with their decision making and strategies. In the days before Vesper existed, dairy data and information was very scattered; there were multiple reports, insight/dairy analysis companies, quotations from different countries – but they are all published in different places. Some were open access, some subscription based – but you had to really navigate the internet. You would also usually only get numbers. So that is a huge benefit of Vesper: all publicly available data [and more] in one location. Not only that, Vesper also graphs the data into a visual. It’s one thing to see a price, but it’s really interesting to see a price in the context of where prices have been for the last 3-4 years. Also being able to change between currencies instantaneously is a huge benefit; a lot of the US data we use is in pounds when we need it in tonnes, and US dollars instead of Euro’s. Or GDT results [prior to Vesper] – you’d have to convert into euros, but with Vesper it’s all done for you, it takes away a lot of that time consumed and gives you more time to go into deeper/further analysis.
“Vesper gives you more time to go into deeper/further analysis.”
Vesper provides visual power, with the aim to make your meetings more productive and interactive. Do you use Vesper for this purpose?
I use the Vesper graphs on a bi-weekly basis to send out my European market overview. I use the graphs to show where European prices are – Vesper also charts prices for Oceania and the US. So it helps readers to know where prices are at compared with other supply regions. We use Vesper in our meetings, market insights and market discussions. We get Vesper live on the screen and it’s just an easy way to get the data out in front of everyone [no matter where they’re based] and answer questions quickly. Once you start using Vesper on a daily/weekly basis then you can really see the value that it brings to the point where you start cancelling all of your other subscriptions and just focus on having vesper as your homepage. When I start my day it’s always up – when I need a quick bit of information I can just jump in there. It’s also interesting to track as Vesper updates their pricing indication, and all the stats as they’re updated: import/export, milk supply and other quotations. I’d be in there at least once a day if not more.
“Once you start using Vesper on a daily/weekly basis then you can really see the value that it brings to the point where you start cancelling all of your other subscriptions”
How much time do you think you’ve saved by using Vesper?
That’s a good question and probably one we would underestimate. I couldn’t see myself without Vesper now. On a weekly basis I’d be saving at least an hour. Not to mention that – if someone asks what the butter price has been doing for the last three years, instead of manually inputting data into excel and then creating a graph, that’s all available in Vesper which is really helpful, it saves so much time.
Fonterra Head Office Auckland
“Vesper enables you to prepare for important negotiations and to try and uncover interesting insights into the market that are less obvious”
How do you use data to make decisions in your day to day role, how often are you looking at data and how does this different data influence your decisions?
For me and our sales team it helps us with preparation for negotiations, and understanding the market. In particular how Vesper adds value; if you want to sell a specific ingredient and need to negotiate what that ingredient is worth, it’s really good to go back and understand the fundamentals of how much milk is being produced, how much of that ingredient and other ingredients are being produced, what’s happening with currencies – where was GDT. Being able to dive down into a country specific for SMP or WMP [or other commodities] production is really useful. If you drill down into different countries, it lets you be curious to explore those areas that you think might be interesting and prepare for when you’re talking to your customers. Vesper enables you to prepare for important negotiations and to try and uncover interesting insights into the market that are less obvious. Vesper gives you the data, but you have to create the insights yourself and I think that’s great; everyone has always had access to the information but now you can go into deeper analysis using the data available on Vesper to create insights that really add value.