Moving sustainable carrot production forward and fostering acceptance through stakeholder dialogue
What was the market situation?
Carrots are a very important outdoor crop in Western Europe, and not just in Belgium. At the same time, the market for fresh produce in Europe is increasingly being driven by stricter societal demands – not least because consumers want to know where and how their food is produced.
Group Verduyn, a third-generation family-owned company with operations in various European countries (e. g. Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Spain), serves the fresh market, food service sector and frozen food industry in 18 countries with fresh vegetables such as cabbages, leeks, peas, and carrots, Group Verduyn’s specialty. The Group also has its own farmers’ association, Green Farm, and is one of Europe’s largest carrot specialists. The Group’s services range from planting the seed to delivering a finished product. Food has become an emotional issue in many European countries. Besides taste and quality, sustainable production is now a key requirement. In supplying both the fresh and frozen vegetable market, Group Verduyn is confronted by a simple-sounding question: “What is sustainable for customers?” The answer is anything but straightforward. And as a Group spokesman says, “This is a challenging puzzle that we cannot solve alone.” That is why a FoodChain Partnership was initiated with Bayer in 2018.
Alexander Verduyn, CEO, Group Verduyn; Willy Vandenbrande, President, Green Farm; Veerle Mommaerts, Food Chain Manager, Bayer Crop Science Belgium
What was the solution?
Installing a Food Chain Partnership created the right space for open dialogue, transparency and the exchange of knowledge on sustainable carrot production. The expertise that Group Verduyn and Green Farm had gained over many years has been combined with Bayer’s seed, innovation and crop protection solutions to create added value from field to fork. In response to the challenging market environment, all the partners have committed themselves to a holistic approach involving complementary crop solutions. These include new carrot varieties as well as both chemical and biological crop protection products that are being safely applied by farmers using new and optimized application technologies to further minimize the impact on the environment. In this way, farmers are coping better with the limited farmland available in a country like Belgium.