The story of Peter and Heleen

Cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable: vegetable production is evolving worldwide

Vegetables are increasingly being grown in a cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable way. Rijk Zwaan supports innovative production methods by providing extensive technical expertise and strong varieties that are resistant to diseases and pests.

Local for local

The demand for healthy, clean and tasty vegetables continues to grow worldwide. In line with the strong ‘local for local’ trend, new and advanced methods are helping to ensure that vegetables can be produced locally in an efficient and sustainable way.

Food-safe production

Hydroponics is one example of an innovative production method. According to Peter Sonneveld, who has been a market specialist for hydroponics at Rijk Zwaan since May 2018, this method is gaining in popularity all over the world, especially for leafy crops. “We’re seeing Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and Deep Water Culture (DWC) being used in many different greenhouse setups, from low-tech to high-tech. High-tech greenhouses are extensively automated and are mainly found in Northwestern Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia and North America. Hydroponics is an extremely food-safe production method entailing the maximum reuse of water and fertilisers and the use of no – or the bare minimum of – chemicals. It’s extremely sustainable,” he says.

Knowledge and varieties

Various Rijk Zwaan colleagues have expertise in hydroponics, continues Sonneveld: “We’re happy to share that knowledge with growers and other chain partners. Besides that, we offer strong varieties. we have various lettuce types and concepts suitable for hydroponic production: Crystal lettuce, Salatrio and Salanova. We have over 50 varieties that can be grown hydroponically. Most recently, we have started developing hydroponic lettuce varieties that can be harvested as ‘teens’ – halfway between the babyleaf stage and full maturity. One of the biggest advantages is that this reduces waste for processing companies, thus helping to maximise their profit.”

Extensive disease resistances

Organic is another growth market, and one that is also well aligned with the quest for more sustainable production methods. According to Heleen Bos, Organic Specialist at Rijk Zwaan, retailers are responding to the demands of ‘conscious consumers’ who are looking to buy chemical-free products. “Retailers are listing more and more organic vegetables; in fact, they are eager to do so. The market is far from saturated. At Rijk Zwaan, organic growers have plenty of choice because 40% of our range is suitable for organic production. In other words, the varieties have extensive resistances to diseases and pests, and respond well to organic fertilisers. Besides that, we can help growers in the transition to organic and are happy to share our market knowledge and technical knowledge with them.” That’s how Rijk Zwaan is sharing a healthy future.