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Qlip targets International Dairy Market

Qlip has set out a new strategy. The company focuses entirely on the dairy chain, but not only in the Netherlands. Also abroad, the company sees opportunities for growth, director Jan Bobbink elaborates. "Thinking in industry chains and the establishment of quality assurance systems throughout the whole chain, that's what we are good at. This is why we also receive acknowledgement from other parties in countries such as China and Asia."

Expansion

The service provider for the dairy chain from Leusden is adding 1,000 m2 at it's chemical and microbiological laboratory in Zutphen. Construction started a few months ago. The kick off was initiated by Qlip director Jan Bobbink, the mayor and the alderman of Zutphen by screwing a pillar in the ground. Mechanically driving pillars in the ground would be risky given the hyper-sensitive measuring equipment used by Qlip to analyze milk and milk products. The expansion illustrates the companies growth over the past four years. "Our activities have increased 29 percent", says Bobbink, since 2012 CEO of Qlip. Most of our growth is to be credited to the facility in Zutphen, where annually 14.5 million raw milk samples are analyzed for milkpayment and dairy herd improvement. The growth, however, occurs mainly in the activities in our chemical and microbiological laboratory. Dairy processors sent in their samples to analyze their end products, for example to be able to demonstrate that their products meet certain export requirements. Annually, currently adding up to more than 450,000 analyzes. " In recent years, the activity in chemical and microbiological analyzes increased with more than 50%", says Bobbink. "We really need extra square meters."

More out of the market

CEO Jan Bobbink elaborates on various reasons. "We have managed to get more out of the dairy market. Four years ago, we had a market share of 35% in analyzing dairy end products; it has increased to 45%. We also noticed that there is more export of infant food and child nutrition. Furthermore, more and more dairy companies find us to ensure quality of their production and products." The substantial investments that dairy companies in recent years have made in expanding their production capacity have also contributed to it. On other hand, Qlip benefits from stricter requirements which dairy companies demand from their supplying dairy farms, based on the growing influence of the market and governmental supervision. Activities on dairy farms are evaluated more often. Not only because of the higher quality standards, also to assure meadow grazing.

Customer satisfaction

Not only external factors have caused Qlip's growth, says Bobbink. Also in our operations we had a few changes.. "Flexibility, reliability and expertise are our values that in recent years have led to greater customer satisfaction. And we kept our rates sharp in recent years." Bobbink is satisfied how the strategy is implemented in last three years. Qlip was forced to gradually adjust the strategy set four years ago. For example, the efforts to expand business to other agricultural markets stopped. It proved more difficult than we originally thought, it was not suitable for our buisness. "The focus for poultry relished too much time and resources away from dairy, while we needed theses resources to the grow of our activities in dairy. So we even more focusing on the dairy chain. We still can grow in the dairy chain."

Organic growth

In the new strategy 2016-2018 our focus is 100% on the dairy chain. Qlip is targeting the international dairy market, that's our focus. "In the first place we see opportunities for organic growth in the Netherlands. However, we note that with demands and inquiries from international companies that there are opportunities for us abroad." Bobbink thinks of dairy companies from the neighboring countries who wish to analyze their products. "We receive more and more requests from foreign companies for reference and calibration dairy samples. We produce standard samples milk with i.e. certain fat and protein contents. We send those to other labs globally which use our reference material to calibrate their instruments. There is a growing demand for those samples and knowledge." Bobbink also noticed a greater need for reviews of meadow milk. "Retailers which require milk from outside the Netherlands demand that their milk meets the standards for meadow grazing according to the way we perform it. It is not just about milk from Germany but also from Belgium and Northern France."

In China and Asia Qlip sees for itself a role in the upscaling and professionalisation of the local dairy industry. Then it goes in particular for assuring quality of raw milk, consultancy and training, and calibration of equipment. "Thinking in industry chains and the establishment of quality assurance systems throughout the whole chain, that's what we are good at. This is where we also receive acknowledgement from other parties in countries such as China and Asia."

New indicators

The new Qlip strategy has alongside domestic organic growth and internationalization another two pillars. One of these is the development of new indicators on the basis of the raw milk. Qlip had already launched the fresh grazed grass indicator last year. With that instrument Qlip can determine if the milk is produced by cows who have grazed fresh grass. Using infrared technology, the indicator shows the degree of propability if the herd have eaten fresh grazed grass; it can also be distinguished whether it is intake of fresh grass in the meadow or on summer barn feeding. The technique offers many possibilities according Bobbink. "Perhaps it is eventually possible to measure the intake of fresh grass on individual cow level, so you can say something about the time that a cow has grazed." Qlip uses the meadow grazing indicator at this moment already at the request of a retailers and some dairy companies. Members of the Dutch Dairy Association (NZO) at the moment are yet still securing their pasture milk programs through visual inspection. Meanwhile they are testing the fresh grazed grass indicator in the field. "The NZO sees 2016 as a key year for the fresh grazed grass indicator. Coming from the visual audits on dairy farms, I understand that." Qlip is also developing other indicators from raw milk. Like an indicator of methane, which could say something about the amount of methane which is emitted during the lactation. An indicator on the degree of acidosis is also feasible, says Bobbink. "Acidosis is a major cause of diseases. It causes 15 percent of the economic loss in the dairy sector."

Innovations

The second pillar of the new strategy is the application of new technology. In this area, in recent years, Qlip has taken the necessary steps. Bobbink indicates for example the development of new equipment for dairy products where it can be analyzed in a single pass on the possible presence of heavy metals and desired minerals. "In the past we required three devices. Now we are able to perform the analysis in one device, results are earlier available." Also in the routine lab, where Qlip analyzes raw milk, Bobbink sees opportunities for innovation. This lab has always been the core of Qlip and is widely appreciated internationally. This should not stand in the way of new developments, according to the vision of Bobbink. "Not going further with the new developments is the same as going under. Sometimes I compare it with the photography manufacturer Kodak. Kodak has long held on to the film roll and embraced digital development too late. That is the reason Kodak perished."

Further development

Bobbink says that the activities in raw milk laboratory will further develop. He sees opportunity for on-site lab technology, "analysis of raw milk on the farm or during transport." By development of new devices we are able to measure more accurately at farm level. You don't hear me telling that the analysis for the payment of milk will soon be determined by the dairy farmer himself, but there are many technological innovations that will allow us to provide dairy farmers faster with information. Which help them to make better decisions.

Source: Zuivelzicht (translation)

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