Ton van Dalen, Best of Four

"Netherlands: "GMO makes significant contribution to horticulture, but should not be a burden"

Since its inception in 2010, growers association Best of Four is growing steadily. Still, growth is not the primary goal of the cooperative. Chairman Ton van Dalen talks about the strategy of the organization, how they deal with GMO, the importance of Clear Trading and what the future holds.

Best of Four, born from a fusion of Brassica Group, Tradition, Unistar and Westveg and exploring further mergers with Kompany or Van Nature, has 180 members, 115 of which are active in horticulture. “We mostly want what is best for our members,” explains Ton van Dalen. “If they’re doing well, we’re doing well. Fruits and vegetables have a healthy image, and are seen as important. However, consumption is still decreasing. If we can contribute to the sector’s recovery by promoting fresh produce, we will.”

Clear Trade
Clear Trading, or “Heldere Handel”, represents a major focal point of the organization. The digital sales system should provide member producers insight into pricing. “The consumer, not having the inside story, doesn’t always understand fluctuating prices,” says Ton. “The same goes for our members. We want to provide that insight, making pricing transparent for the average grower. If we can give the growers honest information on how prices are formed, there’s less friction and more influence.”

“Of course, the system doesn’t guarantee better prices,” Ton continues, “as there are circumstances that simply change price levels. But at least the grower has insight in the underlying causes. If he knows where the bottlenecks are, he is able to use this knowledge for his own benefit.”
An evaluation of the initiative will be made at the end of the season.

GMO has been a vital factor ever since the association’s inception. "As long as GMO contributes to the development of horticulture, it remains a pillar. It generally makes an important contribution in the field of energy, quality, innovation. Without innovation, the sector is stagnant. But if GMO becomes a burden, we need to take another look at it."

Van Dalen here alludes to large production companies that don’t use GMO in order to be involved in the marketing process. "The Dutch market is already quite fragmented. As GMO leads to further fragmentation, we have to find a way to deal with that. Selling plays an increasingly important role. That’s where we focus our organization. Our goal is the best price. To achieve this, you need to view the chain: are prices determined by the retail purchaser, or the wholesale market?”

More information:
Coöperatieve telersvereniging Best of Four u.a.
Ziedewij 5
2991 LA Barendrecht
Telefoon: 0180 622 499
Fax: 0180 820 222

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