Gearbox Innovations wins Robotics and Data-Driven Horticulture theme prize

Photo report: Dutch vegetable grower wins Horticultural Business Award

Wijnen Square Crops has won the 35th edition of the Horticultural Business Awards. For a year, the Limburg pepper growers can call themselves ambassadors of the horticultural sector. The three other nominees, all ornamental plant growers (Zentoo, Ovata, Niels Kreuk), were not able to win the trophy. The theme prize 'Robotics and data-driven horticulture' was also awarded, which was won by Gearbox Innovations.

Wijnen Square Crops grows cucumbers and mini cucumbers on 18 hectares and peppers on 32.5 hectares at two locations in North Limburg -Egchel and Grubbenvorst.

According to the professional jury, Wijnen Square Crops is an innovative, market-oriented company that has taken good initiatives to grow sustainably. "Due to this size, but also because the companies are equipped with the most modern techniques, production is professional, efficient and sustainable. Pieter Wijnen does this with professionals, with a lot of knowledge and experience because the company knows how to bind people to itself. The entrepreneurs show decisiveness in the use of sustainable energy sources. In 2012 they invested in geothermal energy in Grubbenvorst, and in 2020 and 2021 in the use of biomass at both company locations, which means that more than 65% of their own energy consumption will be fossil-free and sustainable", the jury says. 

"And in order to retain good personnel, Wijnen provides good accommodation for its international staff. Originally a traditional family business, Wijnen is now a company with a family culture in which the employees are seen as an important guarantee for the continuity of the company."

From top left, clockwise: Peter Wijnen wins the Tuinbouw Ondernemersprijs, full house, Harm van Adrichem and Simone Keijzer of Gearbox are happy with the theme prize, and Jouri Schoenmaker talks about Pieter Pot.

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The turnout at last weeks meeting at the Floriade in Almere measured up to the usual interest at the presentation ceremony in January at the Keukenhof. Jouri Schoenmaker, founder of the world's first packaging-free online supermarket Pieter Pot, was invited to teach and entertain. He explained how he and his business partner had translated the idea of the milkman from a hundred years ago into the present. In other words, you take a glass jar, put any kind of product in it, bring it to the customer, and take an empty one back. What is different is the modern infrastructure with gigantic DCs, internet and data processing, migrant workers, and investment funds, factors that they skilfully bend to their will.

Wijnen Square Crops wins the Horticultural Business Award 2022

No help
The awards were presented by Guido Landheer, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). Chairwoman Jeannette de Boer took the opportunity to ask him about the government's plans for energy prices and taxes. There are no such plans - tricky tricky tricky, to paraphrase Mr. Landheer, "you know, the climate transition, you can, of course, understand it on a macro level, but yes, for some sectors, it is a bit rough on them, and still, we cannot compensate everyone".

Guido Landheer (LNV) congratulates Simone Keijzer of Gearbox on winning the theme prize.

Special mention
But otherwise, gas, the war situation in Ukraine, and politics, in general, remained in the background. Besides the grand prize and the innovation prize, Tomatoworld and Fruit Tech Campus were put in the spotlight. Both parties were honored with a 'special mention because they provide knowledge development and are a place where young people and entrepreneurs discover the latest innovations'. However, because they do not fit into any of the existing categories, this was done in this way.

Michiel van Ginkel, Rene Gommers of Tomato World and Harry Schmeitz of Fruit Tech Campus

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