Raw materials are expensive, containers are hard to find, timely completion of construction projects is at risk, and the plant will no longer have a pot or tray available to make its way to the consumer. "There is a great shortage of plastic," Frits van Duijn of Van Tuijl knows, "we are receiving many calls from the trade and growers asking if we happen to have any in stock. People are really hoarding."
Stocks are finite, as Van Tuijl knows, but the company has anticipated the scarcity, so to speak. "We also have to deal with shortages but try to invest in our customers by building up larger stocks," says Frits. "Secondly, we have recently purchased a new warehouse, located next door to our existing warehouse in Haaften, where we can store another 8,000 pallets. This gives us the opportunity to purchase and store more stocks from three different manufacturers, who supply the material for the production of our transport and racking trays. This implies a certain risk, because you never know in advance whether all models will run out at the same rate. Finally, we have recently acquired three new injection moulding machines, so that we can increase production even more."
Nevertheless, even Van Tuijl cannot avoid implementing price increases. They have already gone up several times and Frits no longer quotes prices at all: the customer just has to pay the daily price. "Prices of PS (the normpack trays) and PP (most pots) have risen the most. That remains stable but high now, some 15 to 30% above the price of a few months ago. PET, which is much larger in volumes, but is used much less in horticulture, has risen much less. However, its availability is better and its recycling is well organised. Also, a country like England prefers to have only PET, because it is already well filtered at consumer level. That is why we are going to focus more on that: we are now taking the hard runners, the most common pot sizes in PET. We put these in stock, so that we don't have to say 'no' as often. In the future we want to expand this and invest in more moulds."
The conclusion is that trade is not in control for the moment. "In terms of production in the factory, we are reasonably successful in supplying our existing customers, but what is available differs by color and raw material. In practice, a grower is often condemned to black, because other colors are simply no longer available."
Besides plastic, however, there is another alternative: cardboard. It is subject to similar dynamics, but there is no question (yet) of a (major) shortage. As far as that is concerned, one can also turn to Van Tuijl for the Ecoclicktray, a cardboard transport tray that the company introduced some two years ago.
Finally, Van Tuijl wants to manifest itself not only as a reliable player on the Dutch market, but also on the international market. The clientele is steadily expanding, which has become possible precisely because of the aforementioned expansions and investments. To this end, as of last month, the website has been updated and can now be consulted in both English and German.