The story of Jos
‘Getting the best out of everyone’
Jos Ceulemans (left on picture) has been growing lettuce in the small Belgian municipality of Sint-Katelijne-Waver since 1969. Together with his son Paul, he strives for continuous innovation and improvement. Thanks to their focus on freshness, they have become one of Europe’s biggest producers of lettuce under glass.
Responding to market demand
“We’ve expanded the company gradually over the years, from half a hectare at the start to 15 hectares today. We’ve always been guided by the market demand. We have numerous customers, and they must be able to depend on us – even if they have an urgent order requiring special packaging for export, for instance. This also eases the pressure on the domestic market. We aim to set ourselves apart through freshness and flexibility. For that you need varieties with harvest reliability and good resistances, and Rijk Zwaan has been offering the best options in that respect for years.”
“We’re also continuously looking for ways to improve through new techniques and automation. In 2016 we invested in a lit gutter system which has reduced our use of crop protection agents. On top of that, it’s a mobile system which enables us to make more efficient use of the production space. Our first experiences with root ball lettuce have been positive, but we still have a lot to learn – such as about the effect of different types of lighting and the ideal lettuce shape for mechanical harvesting.”
“Transparency is important in that learning process, which is why we’re part of a group of Belgian hydroponic growers who regularly exchange knowledge. We’re also grateful to be able to benefit from the expertise of Rijk Zwaan’s crop advisors, who visit many different locations and therefore have lots of valuable knowledge. We have to keep improving in order to continue to meet the ever-stricter demands of our customers. Competition spurs everyone on to do their very best and hence continually take the product quality to the next level.”