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Organic industrial vegetable cultivation can’t keep up with demand

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-07-07  Views: 1
Core Tip: Although the organic cultivation of industrial vegetables is increasing, there are still shortages.
Although the organic cultivation of industrial vegetables is increasing, there are still shortages. Green Organics encourages switching growers to choose the products that are much in demand, and/or which have the biggest shortages, and they are expanding abroad where possible.

Jan Groen from Green Organics is feeling positive. The organic cultivation of vegetables for industry is increasing. Yet the ever-increasing demand for organic industry vegetables cannot be entirely met. “Despite the fact that a relatively large area has been expanded and is being switched, we are dealing with shortages. Scaling-up is also happening in Europe, but the Dutch industrial product remains highly demanded worldwide because of its product safety and high quality.” Green Organics’s Industry department markets the products to processing industries such as producers of baby food, frozen and tinned manufacturers and drying houses.

The cultivation and trade company in organic fresh produce has to diverge to foreign production countries more and more often, because demand is larger than Dutch supply. “As close as possible has our preference. We always choose Dutch product first. For some years now we have been actively and successfully devoting ourselves to making the transition possible, so that the Netherlands will have more organic production. New growers are more than welcome,” Jan says. “If own production isn’t possible, we’ll look at other options. For example, which cultivation areas are on the market earlier, or where can we do our own growing abroad for local sales. That way, we can still serve the market responsibly. We would like to role out the model we know in the Netherlands to other countries. For that, we need a good cooperation with partners, and we are already working on that.”

Mostly a shortage of peas and beans
The enormous shortage of organic industrial vegetables is currently in green peas and French beans. Despite quite a bit of new organic area, too few growers choose these industrial vegetables right away, according to Jan. “After two lean transition years, growers now mostly dedicate themselves to high-balancing, susceptible organic crops such as onions and carrots. That makes sense, of course, but we think there are good reasons to immediately take up beans and peas in building plans. It also doesn’t help that fewer double cultivations occur in organic. More and more growers choose a green fertiliser rather than another late crop, so they can start the next year properly. And they’re not wrong, but looking purely at the market, not enough beans can be planted.” He does say there’s more interest in the industrial cultivation of carrots from carrot growers. He has noticed an enormous shift to organic carrots for the fresh market taking place throughout Europe. “The danger of becoming unbalanced is increasing considerably. Of course, we can absorb this as industry, but it’s not the way to go. Without pleading for industrial cultivation too much, the growers would be better off in this sector. The industrial production offers much more certainty regarding guaranteed sales and prices.”

Organic industrial vegetables that are on the rise are spinach and sweet corn, among other products. According to Jan, the spinach cultivation is showing a serious increase, although it isn’t quite fast enough to meet the entire demand. Jan: “Sweet corn is also increasing, which is quite special for the Netherlands. We have fought for the product for years, and we are now seeing growers taking it into their building plans. Sweet corn is a true combination of the Netherlands and Germany. In Germany, organic sweet corn can also be grown fairly well, For that matter, Green Organics is the only organic sweet corn processor in the Netherlands, and by far the largest regarding area.” A large share of the sweet corn remains in the Netherlands. Other risers of organic industrial vegetables are celeriac and leek, as well as carrots. Special products are also getting ever more attention. “Although not everything can be easily grown organically, they are a growing market. For instance, the pumpkin market has more and more diversification. Pumpkin is already quite a large product for the organic fresh market, and is now also growing in the industrial sector. Special products are now mostly sourced abroad. Of course, the Netherlands is a relatively expensive country regarding labour and land, so it will remain a search for who can and who dares to invest in specialities. Yet we have noticed that Dutch product is becoming more popular again from the sales side of things, because of the reliability. Years ago, the cheaper countries further away were preferred.”

Remaining a strategic player
Something else that’s become noticeable is the development in Southern Europe. Jan says that many growers here are also switching to organic, both for the fresh market and for industry. “Whether this is a threat to us? Not really. Our mission is to have organic as a standard by 2030. We therefore need this growth. Besides, we’ve seen that the products aren’t that much cheaper abroad. Transparency in organic trade is therefore high. That way, we are given options to look at the European playing field from a wider perspective. After all, we have to know what is happening internationally, if we want to remain a strategic player with the Netherlands.”
 
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