Overwhelmingly positive atmosphere at Dutch organic trade fair despite high inflation

7 February 2023 – Despite high inflation dampening sales of organic products, the mood at the organic trade fair BioBeurs, which took place in the Netherlands on 18 and 19 January, was buoyed by two pieces of good news: €26 million worth of funding for the sector from the Dutch government, and vegetable processor HAK’s full transition to organic produce. Rijk Zwaan’s new organic Marmande tomato Tafury RZ was particularly popular with visitors to the event.

Responding to market demand

“Inflation will of course make the coming years more difficult,” said Ko and Els van den Dries from Van den Dries Bio VOF when they visited the Rijk Zwaan stand. Together with their son, Bas, they produce organic vegetables and arable crops including spinach, brassicas, chives and chicory roots on 140 hectares. “But these will automatically be followed by better times,” continued Ko van den Dries. “We work with Green Organics for our sales, and we try to plan our cultivation activities to respond to market demand. In that respect, HAK’s decision is good news. It could stimulate organic sales.”

HAK is keen to kickstart the organic sector

He was referring to the statement by Timo Hoogeboom, CEO of HAK, during the trade fair, who said that all vegetables and legumes cultivated for HAK in the Netherlands must be organic by 2027. This is in line with the strategic plan of the vegetable processing company, which has sales across north-western Europe. “The key to success lies in significantly increasing demand, which means we need to move away from the exclusive image of organic. This calls for a disruptive approach,” states Hoogeboom in a press release. “At HAK, we’re taking that leap, and we strongly urge growers, other food producers, grocery retailers and the government to join us.”

Dutch government to contribute €26 million

The Dutch government has committed to contributing €26 million over the course of 2023 and 2024 to strengthen organic production and consumption. The funding will go towards a consumer campaign, market development, a fund that makes it easier for farmers to obtain loans to make the necessary switch, and towards boosting knowledge and innovation. This forms part of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality’s ‘Organic Action Plan’. The goal is for 15% of all agricultural land to be used for organic farming by 2030.

Organic producers are more profitable

At the start of BioBeurs Michaël Wilde, director of the Dutch organic association Bionext, expressed his delight with both the action plan and HAK’s decision. In a post on LinkedIn, he also pointed out a third piece of good news, namely that according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), between 2011 and 2020, Dutch organic farmers were more profitable than farmers using traditional methods.

Rijk Zwaan shares the optimism

Heleen Bos, Account Manager at Rijk Zwaan, is equally pleased about the good news, although she remains realistic about the current economic situation: “Heating greenhouses costs money, so growers are delaying their sowing activities,” she says. Nevertheless, Heleen speaks on behalf of Rijk Zwaan as a whole when she looks to the future with optimism: “The organic sector is here to stay. More and more young people want to eat healthily, are choosing pesticide-free and residue-free products and want to help protect the planet. They are the future. Even an economic crisis can’t stop that trend.”

Success for Tafury in REWE’s organic range

That is why Rijk Zwaan continues to inspire and support growers with new varieties for the organic market, such as the new Marmande tomato called Tafury that visitors were able to try for themselves during BioBeurs. Heleen Bos: “This salad tomato is already a success in the Biolabel organic range of leading German retailer REWE. Tafury is supplied by Biosabor, an organic grower from Spain.” Organic grower Els van den Dries was very impressed by the variety, which has a striking appearance: “It has a very good bite and is really tasty. Tafury is one to watch.”

Rijk Zwaan’s tomato variety, Tafury RZ

Read the article about REWE and Biosabor: ‘Beef tomato Tafury can boost the entire segment’.

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