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Dutch students reveal opportunities in Canadian horticulture

There are many opportunities for cooperation between the Dutch and Canadian horticulture industry. In particular there are significant opportunities for Dutch suppliers. A joint solution for providing a reliable after-sales service in Canada will increase local interest in Dutch products. The trade agreement between the EU and Canada, CETA, further strengthens the trading opportunities for Dutch horticultural companies.

That’s the conclusion of a survey by three students from the HAS Den Bosch between March and July this year, under the guidance of Anne-Claire van Altvorst of InnovationQuarter and Jan Westra of Priva. To gain insight into the commercial opportunities in Canada, the students surveyed the two Canadian regions of British Columbia and Ontario. Both the formal and informal networks in the regions were mapped out and a lot of valuable information was collected.

Big differences in regions and industry
The students spoke with entrepreneurs from the floral and vegetable sector to understand the current situation in both industries, with focus on identifying trade opportunities for Dutch companies. There appeared to be large differences between the two regions. Where the Netherlands already maintains good alliances with growers in Ontario, this is not the case in British Columbia.

Jan Westra, Strategic Business Developer at Priva, partner/initiator of the survey: "The new information we have gained is, for example, how companies cooperate in practice. From the Netherlands, we think we know how it works, but In Canada it still works differently, and even between the regions there appeared to be substantial differences."

Particularly in the vegetable sector, there is a great need for Dutch innovations and high tech (automation) solutions that enable growers to produce more efficiently and to strengthen their competitive position pertaining to emerging Mexican import products.

Service hub outcome for Dutch horticultural products
Due to the lack of reliable service on most Dutch products, growers still stay away, despite recognizing that the quality of those products is better. This led to the idea of a joint service hub, which is specifically aimed at providing service to Dutch horticultural products. The idea is received positively by the Canadian parties.

Dutch Triple-Helix model as opportunity
The research found that it is a challenge for companies throughout the Canadian Horticulture sector to attract qualified personnel. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of cooperation between industry and knowledge and education institutions, which means that the curricula do not match the needs of companies and graduates do not have the right knowledge.

Anne-Claire van Altvorst, Business Developer InnovationQuarter: "Schools and lecturers can be an interesting entry point because they have an advisory function for growers, and they teach how to grow with Dutch products. Furthermore, this way the new generation is brought up with Dutch products."

The two market exploration initiators, InnovationQuarter and Priva, are very pleased with the acquired knowledge and the network. Jan Westra: "Canadian companies seem to find it very nice to be heard. If we understand them better by taking an interest in the culture (which is really different), then we can better respond to the real needs. I'm convinced: Market knowledge gives us a head start!"

In the coming period, several follow-up actions will be taken to specify the opportunities in Canada and to activate the right tools in order to make the best use of these opportunities. In addition, a lot of work is being done already to launch a similar survey for the United States. Setting up a (after-sales) service hub can also be very compelling over there. 

Source: InnovationQuarter

Publication date: 9/11/2017



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