Driekus van de Ven, GroentenFruit House:

Bumblebees and snack vegetables at the Grüne Woche

In Berlin the International Green Week is taking place at the moment. If you visit the Holland Pavilion, there is a big chance you'll encounter Driekus van de Ven at the GroentenFruit Huis booth. He was interviewed by Duitsland News about how the sector has changed in recent years. "The purchase of fruit and vegetables by consumers in both the Netherlands and Germany has declined, and although there is more demand from the catering industry, we see that it's declining more. We would like to reverse that trend," explains Driekus.

Price increases
He points to a study by Statistics Netherlands that indicates that the price for unhealthy products has fallen while the price of healthy products has risen sharply. Traceability is what Driekus calls one of the reasons for this increase. "As consumers, we want to know where our products come from and therefore place higher demands on our products."

According to him, the increase in costs due to regulations from the government is also reason for the price increase. "The grower tries to deliver his products as cheaply as possible and Dutch growers are many times more efficient than fellow growers from southern Europe. The rules that our growers have to comply with have accumulated in recent years, as a result of which the costs and also the price of the products have increased."

Efficiency and innovation
"As a grower, you can solve this by producing more efficiently, shortening logistic lines and looking for alternatives to expensive resources." Driekus shows the bumblebees that are used to pollinate the crop. It's not just the bumblebees that are attracting a lot of attention at the fair, also the products that are displayed by Driekus: a striped and a round eggplant, and anything that's snackable, like cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers.

In recent years, the supply of tasty tomatoes has increased. "One in two tomatoes in Germany comes from Dutch greenhouses. The term 'waterbomb' is a thing of the past. The quality has increased, partly because the logistics lines have become shorter so that we can offer a fresher product. Innovation on the shelf contributes to a better image."

Closed economy
Finally, Driekus explains that the Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector is supplying a lot of energy to the consumer. "It has become a very closed economy where energy and heat are being reused. And that is also a positive change compared to several years ago."

Click here to listen to the podcast of Duitsland Nieuws (in Dutch).

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