Dutch grower Nico van Adrichem switches from roses to cucumbers

What if you decide to grow cucumbers and your first year turns out the worst cucumber year in decades? It almost sounds like a cruel joke, yet it’s more or less exactly what happened to Nico van Adrichem of Ni + Co cucumber nursery.

For the past twenty years, Nico has been growing roses, but fierce competition forced him to look for alternative business. He moved from Pijnacker to IJsselmuiden, transformed a vacant rose nursery into a modern greenhouse and started growing cucumbers. Only to find out that the cucumber industry isn’t that rosy either. "Sales are good, but prices are appalling. We have learned to cut costs, but still it’s almost impossible to sustain at these levels,” says Van Adrichem.

Nico is affiliated with growers' cooperative ‘Van Nature’, who takes care of marketing, especially for Scherpenhuizen and Levarht. That works out satisfactorily, but in view of the low prices, Van Adrichem can’t understand why vegetable growers in the Netherlands are so quick to take a beating. "What we should really do is keep our foot down: 25 cents and no lower. Even if it means discarding healthy produce every now and then.”

Discount offers are also a point of debate, according to Van Adrichem. "Last week, retailer Lidl had an offer: Two cucumbers for 25 cents. But that’s preposterous, who’s going to buy 10 cucumbers? Nobody, that’s who! You buy maybe one or two. The cucumber is a fresh product, so basically it's a really weird notion to do it that way."

The market notwithstanding, Ni+Co will stick with cucumbers come February.

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