Dutch horticulture market loses connection with European organic market

“If something can be done organically, then that is how it will be done”. Those are the rules of the organic market.

Source: www.freshplaza.com
Wim Grootscholte has been dealing with opponents since 1970. Since this time his views have only become stronger: if something can be done organically, then that is how it will be done. Thanks to this approach, Wim’s two companies (which he runs with his four sons: Richard, Dennis, Jim and Robert) have become international players in the bell pepper sector. Even when times are bad new projects carry on; for example, a new bell pepper which they have to offer to exclusive sectors.

dutch horticulture

The two companies, 4Evergreen and Grootscholte B.V., have seven production locations, one of which is rented. Three of their own locations are in Westland, South Holland. The other companies are located in Terneuzen, Zeeland, Sint-Annaland, Zeeland and Steenbergen, North Brabant, with the largest location having 24 acres. A few years ago the five entrepreneurs decided to further focus on organic cultivation, and the market for these products began to grow.

Jim Grootscholte: “My brothers and I went out to look at a few other organic companies. When we came back we told our dad, ‘this isn’t going to work.’ It was too messy, with too much risk and with crops that were too bad to send out.”

Pura Natura 
For these reasons the entrepreneurs decided to participate in ‘Pura Natura’, a technique that goes beyond conventional and integrated, this technique deviates from ‘pure’ organic cultivation in one way; crops are grown in containers instead of in the ground. This makes a big difference when dealing with damage from soil, and crops are easier to transport in containers. It took more than six years of research to reach commercial cultivation. In the Netherlands Pura Natura is not recognized as organic. Nevertheless, the five Westlanders have found an outlet where their product fits seamlessly; the North American market. This market does recognize Pura Natura’s bell peppers as organic.
Proving their value every day
It worries Wim Grootscholte that the Netherlands seems to have missed the boat when it comes to the European organic market, “Over the last few years the market has been steadily growing. But Dutch horticulture has hardly benefited from this. Southern Europe, on the other hand, seems to have taken advantage of this growth. Growing organic crops in the ground is difficult, and it will take years before above ground organic crops, like Pura Natura, are accepted. But can the Netherlands still fight it’s way into the market? It is always a matter of hard work, even with the favourable marketing position in North America. European organic bell pepper suppliers still get pushed to the side if Mexican suppliers have a cheaper product, says Wim and Jim. “Everyday we have to prove that the quality and value of our bell pepper’s are worth it, that is how we try to keep our clients.”
Sparring partner 
4Evergreen and Grootscholte B.V. are known as major players in the international bell pepper sector. The two companies are also big in organic crop protection. In 1970 Wim Grootscholte used Encarsia formosa (product name: En-strip) against white flies. Since then the relationship with Koppert has remained. This also applies to their approach to crop protection: if it can be dealt with organically, that is how it will be dealt with. Wim Grootscholte: “Koppert’s quality level is very high. If you are as big as Koppert you cannot have the best price/quality ratio for every product. Nevertheless Koppert is our biggest supplier and sparring partner when it comes to issues concerning crop protection. The company continues to keep up with the latest knowledge.”
For more information:
Koppert Biological Systems
Veilingweg 14
2651 BE Berkel en Rodenrijs
Tel: 010-5140444
Fax: 010-5115203
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