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Potato cooperative Agrico celebrates 50th anniversary

April 13, 2023

On April 2nd it was exactly fifty years ago that Dutch potato cooperative Agrico was founded. To celebrate this anniversary, the company will organize various events for growers, members, buyers and employees throughout the year. During these festivities, the company will reflect on the theme ‘With heart and soil. Committed to the next generation’, in connection to its mission ‘Passion for the potato and the earth that connects us’.

Agrico states that passion for the potato was the basis when creating the cooperative fifty years ago. On April 2, 1973, Agrico was formed from a merger of three cooperatives: the Groninger Pootaardappel- en Zaaizaadverkoopbureau, the Coöperatieve Drentse Telersvereniging G.A. and the Coöperatieve Producenten- en Handelsvereniging voor Akkerbouwgewassen G.A. Zuiderzeepolders. The development of the cooperative did not stop there. It nowadays has various subsidiaries and agencies and Agrico has grown into a global player.

With heart and soil

The Dutch trading house explains the world has become Agrico’s farmland, starting with the potatoes that are taken from the ground by Agrico growers in the Netherlands and being replanted elsewhere in the world to grow into mature plants. The cooperative says this is in line with the cooperative’s mission, ‘the earth connects us all and we look after it’, adding that the potato fits in perfectly as it allows growers to achieve a high yield and high nutritional value on a relatively small area with a low water requirement. The cooperative emphasizes to have been committed with heart and soil to contributing to food security for a growing world population over the past 50 years.

Committed to the next generation

‘Agrico’s new, Next Generation varieties will have to play a major role in this, turning the challenges into opportunities. In addition, the “next generation” in the form of Mark Zuidhof (r), will also take over my position as the new general director’, says current general director Jan van Hoogen (l).

‘Agrico is constantly establishing and increasing the sustainability of potato value chains, to be able to meet the increasing global demand for potatoes now, but also in the future’, says general director Jan van Hoogen. ‘In the coming years, a lot will change in our playing field due to EU legislation. There are major challenges for our growers to deal with this legislation. Agrico’s new, Next Generation varieties will have to play a major role in this, turning the challenges into opportunities. In addition, the “next generation” in the form of Mark Zuidhof, will also take over my position as the new general director’, he adds, looking ahead. Van Hoogen is set to retire on January 1, 2024.

Focus on breeding sustainable potatoes

Agrico founding meeting in 1973, with from left to right: Justin Swegman, Hilko Commies, Huizinga and Jacques van de Noort.

Together with the growers and the breeding work of Agrico Research, the cooperative has focused on the development, cultivation and marketing of sustainable seed and consumption potatoes that are suitable for climates and markets worldwide. The potato trading house has developed various varieties that are grown and sold all over the world. The breeding work of the predecessor of Agrico Research dates back to 1958, when the Verenigde Kweekbedrijven (United Breeding Companies) were founded. The affiliated potato trading houses saw the importance of having their own varieties in order to occupy a good market position. The breeding program of Agrico Research has resulted in large varieties. The Ostara for example was a breakthrough for Agrico in the 1960s, going overseas in large quantities, mainly to the North African market. The Sante is Agrico’s first Next Generation variety and forms the link between the global need for sustainability and increased yield security, while retaining excellent consumption properties. According to Agrico, the Fontane, with its resistance to potato cyst nematode, is the successor to the popular Bintje variety. With the growth of the French fries industry, the jubilee trading house also sees that other French fries varieties have taken off, such as the popular Agria for fresh fries. Export variety Arizona is by far the largest variety produced by Agrico Research itself. A variety that, with its high yield, is very suitable for cultivation in various climates and soil types. Agrico reports that, when developing new varieties, the focus is not only on taste, quality and yield, but above all on a more sustainable world for the new generations.


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