Tag Archives: The Netherlands

Dutch greenhouse area continues to decline

The latest information published by Statistics Netherlands shows that the area of greenhouse production in the country is continuing to decline gradually. At the same time the area devoted to outdoor horticulture has risen slightly. In both sectors the number of companies has fallen significantly.

Between 2017 and 2018 the area of greenhouse horticulture reduced by 80 hectares to 9,000 ha and the number of companies in the sector fell by 290 to 3,190. Since the year 2000 the total greenhouse area has dropped almost 15 per cent from just over 10,500 ha while the number of companies has reduced from 11,070.

Edible production decreased from 4,990 hectares to 4,970 hectares, with the largest fall being seen in red peppers (down 40 ha to 700 ha) and vine tomatoes (down 40 hectares to 930 ha). Production of other peppers rose 30 ha to more to 180 ha in 2018) and cherry tomatoes also increased by 50 ha more to a total of 490 ha. In ornamentals notable changes included a 40 ha increase in chrysanthemum cultivation a decrease of 30 ha for lilies.

Open field horticulture increased 820 ha to 94,340 ha and in terms of area the sector has grown 16 per cent since 2000, although over the same period the number of companies has fallen from almost 17,000 to 9,610 in 2018.

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Shortage of CO2 for Dutch greenhouses

Long term efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of Dutch horticulture, together with the recent global shortage of industrial carbon dioxide have created an unexpected problem for Dutch greenhouse growers: a shortage of CO2 for atmosphere enrichment.

In fact, the situation has got so severe that tomato supplier Prominent has written an open letter to the Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carola Schouten. Jacco Besuijen, Prominent’s energy manager cited a recent report suggesting that The Netherlands hopes to save 2.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas by 2030 and be climate neutral by 2040.

‘Prominent growers are sounding the alarm because they had to contend with major shortages of external CO2 in the past year,” said Besuijen in the letter. ‘For example, our Prominent growers, with a total of 418ha of tomatoes under glass, have been able to apply 5,016 tonnes less of external CO2 in the past six months due to shortages.’

One solution is for the industry to take more waste CO2 from industry. In fact a new pipeline to take CO2 from companies such as Shell Pernis to local greenhouses is currently under construction by OCAP in the PrimA4a development region.

Photo Caption: Tomato supplier Prominent is warning its growers are short of CO2.

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New Dutch strawberries released

Dutch fruit producer Flevo Berry has released a new mid-season fruiting strawberry that the company says has good tolerance to Phytopthora.

Sonsation is a short day variety, with berries with orange-red, conical berries which are said to resemble Sonata, but with better firmness. According to the company, ‘Sonsation is an easy growing variety producing a compact plant with lovely upturned leafs. Flower trusses are at leaf length and still well protected against spring frost. Flowers have excellent pollen quality ensuring a very well fruit set and fruits are well displayed and very easy to pick.’

Steven Oosterloo, commercial director of Flevo Berry said: “Sonsation fits into our philosophy. In developing new varieties we always look ahead. It can be done differently and it really must be done differently, so for us, flavor and sustainability are at the top of the list. It is a part of the way we think. You can use Sonsation in a variety of growing systems. From normal conditions and cooled environments to cultivation on racks and on substrate in greenhouses. The variety is easy to grow and juicy, making it appropriate for both direct sale and retail.”

Photo Credit: Flevo Berry

The post New Dutch strawberries released appeared first on Hort News on 23 July 2018.

Dutch ag. exports reach record high

According to the latest statistics from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Wageningen Economic Research, Dutch exports of agricultural goods reached a record level of €91.7 billion in 2017, exceeding the previous record in 2016 by more than 7 per cent.

Dutch agricultural imports and the nation’s agricultural surplus also reached record heights, as imports of agricultural goods increased by 9 per cent to €62.6 billion, while the agricultural surplus went up by almost 4 per cent to €29.1 billion.

The horticultural sector led the way, with horticulture including cut flowers, bulbs, plants and nursery products worth €9.1 billion. This was followed by dairy products (€8.9 billion), meat (€8.3 billion) and vegetables (€6.7 billion). The same ranking holds true if only domestically produced items are counted.  According to the CBS, ‘fruit ranks fifth on the list of top agricultural export goods, although this is largely re-exports of foreign produce.’

Germany is the top destination for Dutch agricultural exports, with €23.4 billion in agricultural goods crossing the Dutch border, equivalent to over 25 percent of total agricultural exports.

Germany was followed by Belgium (€10.4 billion), the UK (€8.6 billion) and France (€8.0 billion) as the largest buyers of agricultural products from the Netherlands.

Photo Caption: Horticulture topped Dutch exports, with vegetables and fruit in fourth and fifth place.

Photo Credit: Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

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A World of Carrots in One Room

More than 550 people from around the world applied to attend Bejo’s Carrot Symposium in September 2017. In fact, so many people were interested in the event which had the theme of Taste, Health & Innovation that we had to split the event into two groups, with delegates from Eastern Europe and Asia attending on the first day, and those from the rest of the world (principally Western Europe, the Americas and Australasia) taking part on the second day.

As you would expect, networking was also a key part of the day and the breaks were packed with people catching up with old acquaintances, making new contacts and discussing the presentations in more depth. Activities also spilled over the rest of Bejo’s annual Open Days, with carrot harvesting demonstrations and a carrot taste trial also being carried out on the Demo Fields, alongside demonstrations of the latest carrot varieties from our extensive global portfolio.


Carrots are one of the most important vegetable crops globally, with China producing the largest area (130,000 ha), followed by the United States (78,000 ha), Russia (25,000 ha) and Brazil (22,250 ha). As you would expect, with so many different types and varieties available, carrots are sold in a variety of different formats around the world. However, despite the diversity, Nantes types are the most popular representing 40% of total global production. Other types such as Imperator, Flakkee, Berlicum, Chantenay and Kuroda are particularly popular in different regions (such as Kuroda in Japan) or for different uses (such as Imperator and Berlicum types for processing.

Another reason for the diversity of carrot types and production methods is that they are almost unique in being a vegetable that can be used for every part of a meal, something that was demonstrated during the lunch break when carrot soup, carrot slaw and salad, and carrot cake were all available. With carrots also forming the basis of many juice drinks and or smoothies, they really are the most versatile food available.

Globally a third of all carrot production is exported, while for countries like the Netherlands, Israel and Denmark, up to half their total crop is sold abroad. Maintaining such markets require attention to detail at all stages of the growing and supply chain, beginning with seed quality and sowing the crop. “We don’t sell carrots, we sell reliability,” stressed Israeli Crop Consultant Amos Yeger, adding that most of the country’s exports are sold to Eastern Europe, and Russia in particular.


There is increasing interest in Imperator types in different regions around the world, but Canada and the United States of America are still the main market for this type of carrot. To cater for this market Bejo is working on a dedicated Imperator breeding program, alongside its other carrot breeding, which is being led by US-based breeder carrot breeder Rob Maxwell. “We have got the shape and the eating quality, but I want to improve disease resistance, especially given the growth in organic production that we are seeing,” he said. The program has led to a number of new varieties, with a number of new varieties, including four ‘cut and peel’ types due to be released commercially over the next two years.


Dr Richard De Leth

While breeders like Rob and Bejo’s Carrot Breeding Manager Wim Zwaan are busy selecting the healthiest and best new varieties, it falls to experts in the Seed Pathology and Seed Technology departments of Bejo to ensure that the seed of these varieties which is supplied to growers around the world is both healthy, and of the highest quality, including any treatments which the grower may specify. Bejo’s Seed Pathology Research Lead, Bert Compaan, explained that a wide range of different tests are performed on every batch of seed from around the world before anything is sold. Bejo’s seed laboratories offer a range of treatments, including disinfection, coating and priming. The latest innovation is B-Mox seed treatment, a type of enhanced priming which improves germination, establishment, and ultimately crop quality, and carrots are one of the first crops in Bejo’s portfolio to benefit from the technology. “B-Mox goes further than basic priming,” explained Bert. “B-Mox is a form of enhanced priming in combination with an innovative seed coating which gives better uniformity and an improved pack out to the grown crop.”

In order for breeders and seed scientists to keep ahead of an ever-developing disease threat, it is important that plant pathologists share their latest findings. It was therefore extremely interesting to hear Dr Adrian Fox of Fera Science Ltd in the United Kingdom discussing the latest work on carrot viruses which his team has undertaken. He explained that until 2012 there had only been a number of limited studies in Europe, with most of the focus on the Carrot Motley Dwarf complex of viruses and Carrot Yellow Leaf virus.

More recently attention has turned to identifying the causes of internal browning of carrot roots which is caused by viruses and can lead to significant rejections of fresh and processed products. At the same time Carrot Necrotic Dieback Virus (which has been known as Parsnip Yellow Fleck Virus until very recently) has also become more economically important for growers. With some plants having multiple virus infections, “Trying to separate which viruses lead to which symptoms can be difficult,” Dr Fox stressed, pointing out that there is lots more work for pathologists to do in order to fully understand these complex diseases.


There are sound health reasons for including carrots in the diet, and Dutch Doctor and Nutritionist Dr Richard De Leth explained several of them. For example, carotenoids stimulate the immune system and can protect the body from the effects of sunlight and cardiovascular disease. As part of a high fibre diet carrots can also help to reduce the risk of diseases including type-2 diabetes, colon cancer and stroke.


To help promote consumption Bejo works closely with all parts of the supply chain explained Marketing & Communication Advisor Danielle Bruin. “We work with partners on various projects in the chain and our sales staff and breeders are in close contact with each other. We prefer to develop and introduce new products and concepts with our customers.” Some of these recent introductions, which are becoming more popular around the world in different markets, include coloured and snacking carrots, as well as a number of varieties suitable for Bejo’s Cool Carrot Candy concept. These are varieties such as Mokum, White Satin and Ibiza, which have their own consistent and characteristic sweet and aromatic flavour with a crunchy bite and eye-catching appearance.

Picture Credits: Bejo Zaden BV.

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Brit wants to compete with Dutch flower monopoly

For many years the Dutch auction system at Aalsmeer, and Royal FloraHolland in particular, has been at the heart of global flower trade, selling produce from around the globe to dealers and suppliers who then sell it around the world, with some British plants being sent across the channel before being re-imported.

Now entrepreneur and florist Steve France hopes to change that with a new venture: Florismart. “Everything goes through Amsterdam – the Dutch flower auction. Growers sell to the exporters, the exporters sell it to the wholesalers, and then the wholesalers sell it to the florist. It’s bizarre that flowers go from Kenya to Holland and then through the tunnel into England, when they could just go straight to Stansted,” France, who is also the founder of online florist Arena Flowers, told City A.M.

He also hopes that the new platform will help growers to diversify their production. “We spot trends: not only do we have all the growers putting their product on the platform, but we have all the exporters and florists. It gives us a lot of data on the industry. We can see price movement, and so we take data about what florists are buying and feed growers with information about what they should be growing.”

He also acknowledged that, if successful the service would be another competitor to wholesales: “The local wholesalers just hate us. We’re like their worst nightmare. Not only because we’re changing the market, but it’s clear that florists shouldn’t buy their flowers from a local wholesale market, it’s insane. That wholesaler has rents, it has fridges, and it has staff. And florists end up paying for that.”

Photo Caption: Florismart hopes to challenge Aalsmeer’s monopoly

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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“Over 7,000 jobs to disappear in Dutch agriculture and horticulture”

According to a report by the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), more than 7,000 full-time jobs could disappear from Dutch agriculture and horticulture by 2020. However, there may be more opportunities for gardeners and growers.

The number of jobs in the agricultural and horticultural sectors has been falling for several years, with 51,000 full-time jobs being lost since 2000. Declining employment is partly due to increases in efficiency and automation as the industry tries to increase productivity while reducing costs, including labour. However the growth of the housing market means there is a higher demand for landscaping and garden services.

Not only does this affect those who work as gardeners, where there is a shortage of workers during the peak season, but there are also opportunities for specialist growers such as flower bulb producers. The report also points out that while the number of permanent jobs is dropping, the use of flexible workers in agriculture and horticulture has increased to compensate. Currently nearly a fifth of employment in the agricultural sector consists of flexible workers.

Photo Caption: Cost reduction measures are reducing full time employment opportunities

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Increasing earwigs in orchard for IPM

A new research project by the Dutch fruit growers association (NFO) and Wageningen UR aims to investigate why some orchards have lots of the invertebrates while others have far fewer.

“Apple and pear farmers obviously want lots of earwigs in their orchards,” says Herman Helsen, entomologist and leader of the project. “They are extremely useful against problems such as the woolly apple aphid and pear psylla.”

The earwig is one of the few insects that provides parental care. In autumn the adult insects go into the soil to overwinter. In the early spring they build an underground nest where the female protects and cares for the eggs. Once the young have reached the third ‘nymph stage’, they head into the plants, where they feed on insects, fungi or algae.

However, Herman explains that it is not currently known what the youngest earwigs eat in the nest. DNA analysis of stomach contents will be used to answer this question.

Wageningen UR and the NFO recently received a grant from the Top Sector Horticulture and Starting Materials for a new research project. The main question is what is the difference between an orchard with few earwigs and one with many? If it proves to be the availability of food for young earwigs, it may be possible to stimulate the number of earwigs by improving the conditions in the orchard.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The post Increasing earwigs in orchard for IPM appeared first on Hort News on 24 June 2016.

Dutch fruit and veg trade breaks records

According to reports the Dutch produce industry has a record breaking 2015.

The value of imports increased by 7 per cent to €5.1 billion, while the value of production rose by 13 per cent to €3.4 billion, compared to the previous year. However Dutch exports of fruit and vegetables and domestic consumers bought 3 per cent less fresh vegetables and a 0.5 per cent less fresh fruit over the period. Some of this decline was due to poor availability of vegetables for international markets due to weather conditions in the spring and summer, although this also had the effect of raising prices.

The country also had a good year in terms of exports, despite the ongoing Russian embargo. China, Vietnam, Panama and Brazil were among several countries to open their borders to Dutch products and industry sources said that Dutch onions were exported to 120 countries in 2015.

Photo Credit: Richard Crowhurst

This post first appeared in HortNews.

Bejo hosts the world of brassicas at Brassica Symposium 2015

On Thursday 24th September Bejo hosted more than 220 growers, suppliers and industry experts at its headquarters at Warmenhuizen in The Netherlands for its Brassica Symposium 2015.

The day, which was held to coincide with Bejo’s popular Open Field Demo Days, gave delegates from around the world the chance to hear the latest developments in brassica science, marketing and breeding from leading experts, as well as seeing for themselves the novel product concepts that Bejo is developing in the sector.

In his keynote presentation Professor João Carlos da Silva Dias, chairman of the ISHS Brassica Committee, gave an overview of the development and evolution of the wide range of brassica vegetables we now enjoy, from the earliest wild kale type plants to modern sprouting broccoli and coloured cauliflowers.

Focus on science

The morning focused on science, in particular the role of glucosinolates, a key benefit of many brassica crops. These important compounds were discussed by Dr Nicole van Dam of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity, and Dr Kirsten Brandt of Newcastle University, before Henrie Korthout of Fytagoras B.V. provided a glimpse of the future when he outlined new techniques to identify the important bioactive compounds found in brassicas and other vegetables.

Understanding the chemicals present in different brassicas can be important for marketing purposes. The way in which even the same bioactive compound interacts depends on many different factors and may not always be the same, as Nicole van Dam explained: “Every crop has its own profile and benefits and its own composition pathway. You cannot always claim that a particular glucosinolate is healthy, so you have to understand what you are talking about.”

As plant breeders have worked over the years to produce sweeter, less bitter tasting brassicas, they may also have made them more palatable to certain pests, many of which are deterred from eating crops with high glucosinolate levels. However, this isn’t always the case and it was pointed out that some species, such as Pieris brassicae and P. rapae are actually attracted to the plants by these compounds.

Focus on marketing 

In the afternoon the focus turned to marketing, with consultant Elena Ozeritskaya of Fresh Insight discussing megatrends which affect the consumption habits of consumers of different ages, in particular the rise of ‘Generation Y’. This globally aware, media focused group is changing the way they consume everything from information to food, with formal meals often being replaced by snacking. “Retailers will have a real challenge to come up with concepts for this generation,” warned Elena.

Possible ways of appealing to these new consumers were suggested by Jeff Trickett, Director of Sales and Marketing for Bejo in the United States, and Daniëlle Bruin, Marketing & Communication Advisor for Bejo. They discussed the differences between products in the US and European markets and presented details of Bejo’s new product concepts such as Léttage salad cabbage, Coolwrap cabbage rolls and Kohrispy kohlrabi sticks.

“We are trying to lead the way in terms of seed to plate development,” explained Jeff. With this in mind Bejo is looking to expand on the success of cabbage wraps (which have the added benefit of being gluten free), with other new lines, including purple sprouting broccoli, pointed cabbage (which is unknown in the United States) and, possibly, kale wraps, each of which uses specially selected Bejo varieties.

Each session ended with a panel discussion giving delegates the chance to question all of the speakers, prompting lively debate and during the breaks there was a chance to network and try cooked samples of the new innovations, with Coolwrap rolls proving especially popular during lunch.

This post first appeared on SeedQuest on 15 October 2015