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[interview] Valentijn van Santvoort (Holie): ‘The role of CMO has changed enormously’

Over the past ten years, Van Santvoort (photo) has built brands at various international agencies in Amsterdam as a strategist. ‘The early years at the independent Lemz formed me early in my career. Brands that actually contribute to social issues or solve concrete problems still give me the most energy, ‘he says now.

What exactly do you have with marketing?
‘A lot of. The role of a marketer, or CMO, has evolved enormously in recent years. Today’s marketer connects disciplines, primarily represents the customer and at all times monitors the relevance of the brand in navigating business strategic waters. In that respect marketing is more fun than ever. ‘

How came plan Holie established and since when?
‘The earth is heating up too quickly. This has major consequences for people and global biodiversity now and in the future. That is why we are on a mission with Holie to support the planet. We started from this drive in 2018. We are the first Dutch food brand to do business in a climate-positive way. This means that everyone who buys a Holie product makes a positive impact on the planet. We invest 50% of our profit in planting trees. Everything is vegan, locally sourced and contains 0% added sugar. For example, Holie helps more and more people to do something good on a daily basis. For themselves and the planet. ‘

Who do you work with?
‘One of the success factors of our exponential growth is our complementary team. Merick Schoute, former category manager Ahold Delhaize, is responsible for general management and sales. Marc Veltman is a former chef and has worked as a food technologist for years. He develops our products and understands better than anyone how to make healthy and tasty food from today. ‘

OK. How is your distribution?
‘We currently sell granola and hummus in all major supermarkets in the Netherlands, Belgium and this month we will be on the shelves at Edeka in Germany. We see that our mission and products also resonate very well abroad. This is really cool to see! ‘

Sustainability is important to Holie. Why and explain?
‘Sustainability is the cornerstone of Holie. We believe in a form of “conscious capitalismIn which companies take responsibility and use their business as a force to do the right thing. An economy in which we move from a shareholder to a stakeholder model, in which people and the environment are just as important as making a profit. With Holie we are therefore on a sustainable mission to support our planet in the context of climate change and we commit to a business model that puts the planet above making a profit. ‘

How do you fill in the purpose goals?
Holie says: “We exist to drive positive change for our planet. ” That is why we want to be a climate-positive company with Holie before 2023. On the one hand, we map out our entire CO2 emissions together with independent consultancy GiantLeaps. With this information we will further minimize our own emissions. On the other hand, we use 50% of our profit for planting trees with certified NGO partners such as Trees for All and Justdiggit. In the future, for example, we will absorb more CO2 than we emit. And we are already making a positive impact. Next year Holie will already be planting 22,500 trees in projects in the Netherlands, Uganda and Tanzania. With this we will absorb approximately 7.5 million kg of CO2 from the atmosphere and green an area the size of the city center of Amsterdam. Our projects are an essential link in the fight against climate change, because they contribute to CO2 reduction, more biodiversity and water retention. Finally, with Holie we lightly create attention for climate change and let people enjoy “conscious food” with a positive impact. ‘

Who and how many people do you work with?
Holie consists of three founders and two interns. In addition, we work together with production, logistics and retail partners. In fact, we are building a marketing and sales organization with a great network of partners who believe in our mission. ‘

Has the pandemic affected your marketing strategy?
‘Not directly. We do feel that our message is more relevant and urgent than ever. Now is the time to reflect on the impact of humans on the planet and a theme such as living more consciously. We hope that Holie inspires and helps people to emerge from the crisis greener and healthier together. ‘

What are your plans with Holie for 2021?
‘We are going to expand the business exponentially in Europe. By upscaling and rapid innovation, we want to go through the € 10 million turnover within 3 years. This means that we help people on an international scale to make a positive impact on our planet through healthy food. In this way we wake up the established order to structurally look differently at their business and responsibility in the world. With Holie we show that commercial and positive impact on the planet can go hand in hand. And it is tasty too. ‘

text: Peter van Woensel Kooy


Valentijn van Santvoort, co-founder & ‘Chief Brand’ Holie.


Impression product portfolio & team Holie

More Holie info can be found here.

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