Organic grower Henk Verhage

If Dutch organic greenhouse veg area increased prices would fall

Organic is booming. At the tenth Organic Fair of IFOAM EU, there was a two-day long discussion on the future prospects of the organic sector. Several time emphasis was placed on the expansion possibilities of organic greenhouse vegetable cultivation. “Due to shortage, organic products in shops will more and more frequently be grown abroad. It is likely that more organic products are going to be imported, and that would naturally be a shame,” says Van den Idsert. Yet other noises can also be heard, from, for example, Henk Verhage, grower of organic tomatoes and cucumbers in Kapelle. The family company of the Verhage family contains two hectares of greenhouses.

In 2010 Henk and his father Kees decided on growing fully organic. In 2012 they opened organic greengrocer’s Biopoint. Other products not sold in the farm shop are sold by growers association Best of Four. According to Henk there is not a lot of space for extra production on the organic greenhouse vegetable market. “At the start of the season our products were on the shelves, but when prices rose slightly, retailers switched to Spanish products and our products were exported. Incomprehensible, because discounters are now competing with cheaper, foreign products instead of Dutch products for which they can get more margin.”

“Growers are now told that a lot of money can be made in organic cultivation, but we have also had a different experience in the past years,” Henk continues. “Perhaps there is more space in the speciality market, but if a cucumber or tomato grower with more than five hectared decides to jump into organic cultivation, we as Dutch greenhouse growers, with a combined area of one hundred hectares, would be in trouble. As soon as more volume enters the organic market, it needs to become even more of a stunt market in order to smooth away volume. That would downgrade the entire organic market.”

“Space on the market is with discounters. So if more Dutch volume enters, it will have to go to discounters in order to smooth away volume. This is not explained to possible switchers. When switching, switchers have to count on much higher production costs than normal and the cheapest organic prices now seen on the market,” Henk concludes.

For more information:
Henk Verhage
Kwekerij de Noordhoek

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