Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods is a Dutch family business specialising in producing and packaging milk powders for consumers, and manufacturers. They pride themselves on their high-quality products, offering everything from whole and skimmed milk powder to fat-filled and plantbased powder. Their annual production is a staggering 240,000 tons, of which 75% is exported outside Europe. It is clear that Vreugdenhil has become a prominent player in the milk powder industry. Gerben van Schaik has been with the company for almost 20 years, the last seven years as their Commercial Director. He has a clear vision of what it takes to succeed in the competitive milk powder market. As Gerben puts it, “To keep the status as the preferred supplier, we must not only continue to innovate our products and maintain high-quality standards, but also prioritise keeping customers informed about the latest developments in the dairy industry to help them make informed decisions. To achieve this, Gerben partnered with Vesper to create detailed market analyses. These analyses helped Vreugdenhil during client meetings to assist both parties in reaching their goals – a true collaboration that elevates everyone’s success.

An unexpected twist

Before applying for the position of Sales Manager 20 years ago at Vreugdenhil, Gerben knew nothing about the company, let alone the dairy industry. “I’m happy this opportunity crossed my path. I can’t imagine myself working in any other industry than dairy.” Why is the world of dairy so appealing to Gerben? For one, it is the long-term relationships he can form with clients. Additionally, Gerben finds the volatile nature of the market to be incredibly challenging – a constant test of his skills and knowledge. Finally, he loves the fact that clients demand increasingly specific requirements for their products. This allows Vreugdenhil to add even more value to its products, a strategy they are currently focusing on.

When Vreugdenhil acquired two factories from Nestlé and became a significant player in the liquid dairy market, Gerben’s role began to evolve. He took on more purchasing responsibilities, quickly proving his worth and earning a promotion to Commercial Director. In this new role, he oversaw purchasing, sales, and support. To Gerben, being a Commercial Director means more than just selling the product and looking out for the company’s interests. It’s about helping clients identify and evaluate their options and assisting them in making well-informed decisions. “In a way, we are like a trusted advisor to our customers – someone they can rely on for guidance and support”, says Gerben.

Custom-fit solutions

“Some buyers need more guidance than others”, Gerben continues. “In contrast to larger companies with a team of research analysts providing them with the latest market trends, the smaller/ middle large companies expect us to advise them on how the dairy market will develop. Besides our own market research, Vesper helps us be the expert advisor clients expect us to be and takes on the workload of conducting research and gathering data points that we include in our market reports used during internal and external meetings with buyers. Before using Vesper, we collected all the information from websites such as ZuivelNL, Eucolait, and GDT. It was quite time-consuming.”

“Vesper’s dashboards are very easy on the eye, helping us convey complex information in one representable and clear overview to our clients.”

Which information Vreugdenhil scrapes from Vesper depends on the party they speak to and depends on various factors such as:Which product(s) the buyer purchases;The degree of interest and expertise of the buyer in market developments;Which part of the world the buyer is located in.

Vesper is a treasure trove of information for Vreugdenhil, a global company operating in over 130 countries. With access to prices, import/export data, production figures, forecasts, news, and analyses from around the world, Vreugdenhil can easily extract the data they need to meet each buyer’s unique needs. And with Vesper’s customisable dashboards, they can seamlessly tailor the information for productive conversations during meetings. “When meeting with customers from Asia, we create custom workspaces in Vesper’s dashboard, including only data from Oceania. Likewise, when meeting with our clients in Middle or South America, we provide tailored workspaces that filter data specifically for LATAM. Vesper’s dashboards are very easy on the eye, helping us convey complex information in one representable and clear overview to our clients.”

What to include in your market reports (including examples)

According to Gerben, buyers seeking market advice are typically interested in the following market trends, so don’t forget to include them when preparing your market report with the help of Vesper’s Dashboard:

1. How the milk supply developed over the past 12 months;

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Milk production directly affects market prices. High production leads to a surplus and lower prices, while decreased production can cause shortages and higher prices. Understanding production trends helps buyers anticipate price fluctuations and adjust procurement strategies. Vesper’s Milk Production widget on the Vesper Dashboard provides monthly production data for easy comparison with previous years.

2. How the stocks of the different products are built up;

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Import, export, production, and consumption serve as indicators of how the Ending Stocks will develop in the upcoming month and, thus, price trends. It’s advantageous to make purchases when stocks are at their highest, as prices are likely to be lower during that time. Vesper’s dashboard provides the Supply and Demand Graph, which offers a user-friendly overview of the quantities of goods entering and exiting the market, making it easier to understand the market dynamics.

3. How production volumes will develop;

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Monitoring production volumes helps a buyer assess the supply side of the market It helps anticipate supply-demand imbalances that impact prices. Vesper’s Production Volumes widget on the dashboard enables buyers to compare projected and past production volumes, facilitating informed decisions and inventory management.

4. How (in our case) milk and powder prices have developed and will develop: 

To ensure market players trading against a fair price, Vesper has introduced the Vesper Price Index (VPI), an independent pricing benchmark that incorporates prices sourced from input provided by buyers, sellers, and traders. It allows buyers to view current and historical prices up to 5 years back. Together with Vesper’s pricing forecast, buyers are able to create effective budgeting decisions.

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Besides Vesper’s Dashboard, Vreugdenhil typically uses Vesper’s News Page and Price Drivers section to keep up with the latest market trends. “The great thing about Vesper’s news page is that we can customise our search by filtering the news by country/countries and product(s), making it easy to find the news most relevant to us, the buyer in question. On the other hand, the Price Drivers section gives us an easy-to-grasp visual summary of the latest market trends, which are supported by data and concise insights from Vesper’s data analysts.” It includes the following price drivers: market sentiment, current price level, demand, supply, stock levels, futures, AI forecast, and valorisation.