The potato has always had a strong position in Dutch society. Past success, however, offers no guarantees for the future. Potato cultivation in the Netherlands faces new challenges in the coming years. I’ve noticed that there is still little urgency to change, and that worries me. There are so many opportunities for the sector if it were to respond proactively to trends and developments.
Younger consumers are making increasing demands of food and are switching very easily to alternatives. The part of the European population that routinely buys a bag of potatoes in the shop every week is falling dramatically. This also applies to other products, but the potato sector has lived with it for years.
Political decisions such as the ban on CIPC are forcing the sector to start operating differently. With the EU’s sustainability objectives in mind, many more restrictions can be expected. It can be seen as a threat, or as a huge opportunity to position the potato as the most sustainable crop in the future. That’s not easy and will certainly not be realised tomorrow, but I think it’s important to have a clear target. Creative ideas are then automatically born, so that it may become possible, over time.
It’s all about adding value to the final product. In order to achieve this, daring and closer cooperation in the chain is required. All chain partners should invest time and money in this, but with joint end-goals and a healthy dose of trust in each other. The introduction of PlanetProof certification in the consumer sector is a good example of this. The discussions beforehand focused mainly on who would pay the extra costs, in practice the certification proved to be an excellent protection of the market price. The price difference in the market is currently much greater than the extra costs incurred. Sometimes retrospective innovation achieves more than you could ever have dreamed of!
The content of this blog is the Potato World Vision column by Joeri Wulff (Commercial Manager at Landjuweel B.V.), published in PotatoWorld magazine 2020/03.
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