"A win-win situation"
Ten years of European Food Network – Alfred Miller, Managing Director of DACHSER Food Logistics, takes a look back on the first years and shows why the cooperation strategy is the basis for a win-win situation - both for the network members but especially for the customers.
Ten years ago, at the founding of the European Food Network, you said in an interview: "We want nothing less than to become the leading network for intra-European food transport." How do you see that from today's perspective?
I can underline the statements made at that time today. Our development in figures alone makes it clear that we took the right course when we founded the network. At the beginning, we were already operating in 21 countries in Europe and had almost 1.8 million pallet spaces for food storage. In the meantime, 34 countries are connected with each other through regular scheduled transport and the number of pallet spaces for food increased to 1.9 million.
And the European Food Network is thus present almost European wide and delivers food to the last corner of Europe - a goal you had set yourself back then...
I never doubted that we would achieve the goals we had set, even though the initial situation in the European food market was difficult at the time. In the beginning, we expected rather moderate growth. But our network strategy for Europe has been very positively received by customers from day one. For example, in the first year of its existence, the volume from the network to Germany almost doubled compared to the previous year, and export volumes from Germany also increased by a double-digit percentage. Our achievements were already consistently positive in 2014 and remain so today.
Can you tell us the European Food Network's recipe for success?
The essential parameters are quickly summed up. All partners work together as equals. There is a great deal of trust between them and in order to realize smooth processes and punctual deliveries, we have defined common guidelines from the very beginning. These include defined performance and quality criteria for our customers as well as internal standards for operational processes, administrative procedures and the digital exchange of documents and status information about the consignment. With these regulations, pan-European food logistics has become even faster, more transparent and more reliable for our customers. The transports have been stable from day one, the transparency promised at the start works and the quality is good. This creates trust, and if we prove this trust every day - which we do - we will have highly satisfied customers. The success of our food logistics is therefore based on trust, stability and reliability.
Managing Director DACHSER Food Logistics
The fact that the network is very stable is surely also due to the fact that you defined special selection criteria for membership in advance?
Absolutely. The sustainable foundation of the European Food Network is formed by family businesses that are among the leading food logistics companies in their country, knowing their market very well, maintaining solid customer relationships with industry and retail and stand out for their comprehensive, high-quality logistics services for the food industry. The fact that we can draw on the reliable virtues and values of family businesses in the network can be seen in the fact that after ten years, only two founding members are no longer active in the network. The only changes have been in the UK and on the Sweden, Finland and Norway route. We operate reliably and on a long-term basis. This is reflected, among other things, in the fact that we have been working together with many network members in bilateral partnerships, in some cases for over 25 years.
Why does the network function so smoothly?
Because everyone knows their strengths and is firmly convinced that we are even stronger as a team. That's why we can offer the service that has proven itself in the market via the network, so that our customers can deliver their groupage consignments as well as partial and full loads safely and promptly throughout Europe with a good price-performance ratio. It is also essential that over the years of cooperation, networking has become more and more intensive on a personal level. Not only the managers and owners but also the employees in the individual departments regularly exchange information and work hand in hand on the joint projects in the network. The members of the European Food Network are not interested in merely exchanging consignments, but in achieving more for our customers together and making the network better and better.
The founding of the European Food Network was a milestone for DACHSER, and you played a key role in driving the issue forward at the time. Why?
We are the initiators of the network and even ten years ago, transports and central warehouse structures were hardly ever tendered on a national basis, but increasingly for the whole of Europe or for transnational regions. Also, even back then, producers expected sophisticated European logistics solutions from a single source from their logistics service provider. This is precisely why we pushed ahead with the establishment of the network. I firmly believe that in the ten years of the European Food Network, we have built a strong logistics network within Europe for the entire food industry - a network that has created a real win-win situation for partners and correspondents as well as for our customers. Our customers can expand their export business and develop new markets that are otherwise difficult to reach with general cargo shipments on a continuous as well as regular basis. This is because all the members of the European Food Network work around the clock and together ensure seamless logistical integration across all European economic areas. In this way, they ensure time- and cost-optimized delivery for shippers. We have also significantly reduced the number of empty trucks in cross-border food transports, which not only protects the environment but is also much more efficient for everyone involved. Last but not least, the network partners can offer their customers transport solutions that would not be economically feasible without membership in the European Food Network.
Thank you for your time.
Learn more about the tenth anniversary of the European Food Network here.