The members of the Board of Directors are all volunteers who have made a commitment of time, energy and expertise to assure a successful future for World Potato Congress Inc.
Secretary General: BELGAPOM, the Belgian Potato Trade & Processing Association
Director: FVPHOUSE,the house of the Belgian fruit, vegetables and potato sector
Romain Cools was born in Lokeren, a small town between Ghent and Antwerp in Flanders Belgium and where he resides today. He was introduced to the agricultural sector from a young age as his parents owned an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) in the meat industry.
Following his studies to become a teacher, Romain became active in Europe’s cultural sector as a spokesman for the State Secretary of Environment and Social Emancipation. He later joined the Belgian SME organisation, UNIZO, where he was asked to become Secretary General of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade & processing association. Romain has remained in this position for the past 26 years.
As Secretary General with Belgapom, he along with a small team of FVPhouse (fruit, vegetable and potato house) has tried to assist the Belgian potato and vegetable sector to move forward in a more and more complex Belgian, European and global environment.
As well, within Belgapom, he has created a number of initiatives such as: the guideline for self-checking for the trading and processing of potatoes, fruit and vegetables; the international trade fair for potatoes and vegetables, Interpom Primeurs; and, the promotional campaign for Belgian fries with James Bint, Ambassador of the Belgian Fries. New initiatives related to research and development such as WatchITgrow (which follows potato crops via satellite and further collaboration within the Belgian potato chain have also been launched.
Among a number of European national associations, Romain has taken up the rotating role of Secretary General of the European Associations of Potato Trade, Europatat for 15 years. As well, he has been involved with EUPPA, the potato processing industry for seven years. Together with the Boards of both organisations, he has managed to establish a full time Secretariat for both European associations in Brussels, the European Union capital. This has resulted in a more professional representation of the potato sector in Europe.
Romain is active in several consultation bodies of the Belgian and European authorities and co-founder of the Belgian food and plant safety & sustainability scheme, “Vegaplan”. As well, he is also a Board Member of the Belgian food industry association and Chairman of the UNIZO agro-food platform.
Romain was appointed to the Board of Directors of the World Potato Congress (WPC) Inc. in 2006 and has served as Vice-President for the past three years. As of January 1, 2018, he succeeds David Thompson of Prince Edward Island, Canada to become the fifth President and CEO of WPC Inc. Romain is the first WPC President and CEO from Europe.
Romain is married to Patricia and is the father of Rebecca and Joachim.
Professor and Extension Potato Specialist
University of Idaho