Braakenburg seen as survivor of fast-moving grain trade

by Teresa Acklin
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   Aat Braakenburg, the first non-U.K. president of the Grain and Feed Trade Association, says he considers himself to be somewhat of a “survivor” in an industry that has seen considerable change and turmoil.

   Speaking of the Rotterdam grain and feed trade, where he is head of the Pell Group, Mr. Braakenburg noted during a recent interview at GAFTA House that his is “the only Dutch firm active in the c.i.f. (cost, insurance and freight) market in Rotterdam.” He contrasted that with the pace of activity when he went into the grain and feed business 34 years ago.

   “I remember very well the daily Rotterdam Bourses which quite often drew a crowd of 250 people,” he said. “Now, would you believe, it's difficult to gather enough people to have a Bourse one afternoon a month?”

   Mr. Braakenburg has not only survived, but is also regarded as a highly successful international merchant, largely because of his keen understanding of the direction in which the trade was moving.

   About 25 years ago, he began focusing on handling agricultural chemicals for the feed trade, including vitamins, and he developed the Pell brand among feed manufacturers and other users. Thus, as his relationships with U.S. shippers of feed ingredients dramatically changed over the years, he retained a sizable business. He is still a major supplier of feed ingredients, mainly oilcakes and byproducts, as well as grains, to the European feed trade.

   Mr. Braakenburg entered the grain trade in 1959 with Willebeek Le Mair & Co., N.V. He sold his shares in that company in 1974 and established the Pell group, as Pell Nederland B.V. and Pell Belgie N.V. He also was a co-founder of the Shipmair Group. Mr. Braakenburg is a member of the boards of directors of several substantial Dutch businesses.