"Accurate information and price transparency will push the market in the right direction"

Geoffrey Paulus is Sales Director at Solarec, a subsidiary of the "Laiterie des Ardennes" cooperative, that processes and sells more than 900 million litres of milk each year. Once the milk is collected from the farmers, Solarec transforms the milk following procedures that meet the highest quality standards and distributes the products all over the world.

Please tell us a bit about your past career and how you ended up as a Sales Director at Solarec?

All of my career I have been working in the Dairy industry. At Solarec I am responsible for the whole sales division. Because Solarec has grown a lot over the past 3 years I have faced some interesting challenges and I'm very proud to be a part of this business. Solarec is reliable by nature - our mission is to work hard every day to bring a better life to our farmers, but at the same time we don’t forget our customers. When a customer calls us we want to give them the most accurate and reliable information. We don’t want to be bullish or bearish depending on who’s calling – we want to give all of the information to the customers, allowing them to make a good decision.

I believe Vesper is like-minded - we believe that accurate information and price transparency will push the market in the right direction. We want to stimulate open conversation and believe that sharing what is really on your mind will do good, as accurate information is key. There is enough space/room in the market for everyone to make their own decision, as everyone makes decisions in a different way.

Vesper contributes to a more transparent market; I never open Vesper because it is always open on my computer.
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How does a company like Solarec use data in their decision making? Whether this is data from Vesper or data from different sources.

In order to answer that question, I would like to remind you what kind of company we are. Because we are a cooperative, we are not making what we need, we are taking all of the milk produced by our farmers.

As a commodity company we process around 1.5 billion litres of milk, around 100.000 tonnes of powders, 50.000 tonnes of butter and 220 million litres of UHT Milk. We are also adding a capacity of 32.000 tonnes of mozzarella per year. In order to create more value for our farmers who are close to the factory, we try to invest in for example texturised butter and mozzarella which is more stable throughout the years.

With this amount of product we really need to be reactive in the market with our prices in order to get the best value for our farmers. As prices need to be adjusted almost every day, we cannot afford to be searching for relevant information for two hours a day. Searching for hours and taking care of your customers at the same time is not doable. That’s why a platform like Vesper, where you have all the information in one overview, comes in handy.
Vesper
“With Vesper you can easily show customers why to choose a certain strategy over another, it helps them better to understand the market”

Since having access to Vesper, has it changed the way you are using data or changed the way you go about your day-to-day business?

Of course. At first, I was the one trying to get all of the information together in one overview. I did my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, but it wasn’t complete. Everybody in my team tried to find the remaining information that was missing to try to create a more complete overview of the market but it still wasn’t as complete as the overview Vesper offers.

Vesper has done a great job, and I believe that you have quite a customer list now! Often when I talk to customers, they refer to Vesper. It is always nice when external parties know your references, especially the calculations page Vesper has. Of course, we have our own calculation methods as well, but with Vesper you can easily show customers why to choose a certain strategy over another, it helps them better to understand the market - for example why produce more whole milk powder over butter, SMP or mozzarella.
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Vesper
“I tried to put everything in my own big excel sheet which took my computer two hours to open. Compared to Vesper however, it's useless”

And if you had to choose, do you have a favourite part of Vesper? Either the web tool or the app or a mixture of both?

I always have the news page open. I also often go to the dashboard to check out stocks available.

Finally, seeing the direct conversion of currencies and quantities is very interesting for us. Especially when you are comparing data from different sources. I tried to put everything in my own big excel sheet which took my computer two hours to open. Compared to Vesper however, it's useless.

Alongside the timesaving element from looking at our dashboard, what are the other perceived benefits from using Vesper?

In the past there was a hesitancy in the market to share information because at that time, information was key. Today, the market is more transparent and together with Vesper, having conversations with customers is a lot easier.

Also, as I told you already, we are a cooperative that processes different products like butter, skimmed, and mozzarella. Getting these prices means digging deep in different markets. That’s why I am a huge fan of the Vesper Price Index (VPI), which covers multiple products.

I consider it to be a very reactive index. The trend is good and accurate. You can even compare prices between different regions, Vesper has a lot of them. Recently I tried for example to compare skimmed milk prices from different regions which was really interesting.

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