Four growers associations from the south-eastern parts of the Netherlands have joined forces. Under the TOP-Zuid banner, they have recently been mapping out the nature and size of their green residual streams. These streams are, for example, plant waste, stem material, and Class 2 or 3 products. Now, these streams often leave the company as waste.
In the coming months, TOP-Zuid wants to investigate how they can add value to these green residual streams. They want to use market research results and the help of relevant partners for this. In this way, TOP-Zuid intends to meet the growing need for a more sustainable, circular agricultural and horticultural sector.
The Coöperatie Tuinbouw Ontwikkeling Platform Zuid U.A. (TOP-Zuid) or Cooperative Horticultural Development Platform South, is a partnership between four growers associations. These associations are major important players in South-East Netherlands and the Euroregional border areas. They are important both in an individual as well as a joint capacity.
The partners are Fossa Eugenia, Kompany, SunFresh, and ZON. A few years ago, they joined forces to form TOP-Zuid. They did this to strengthen the agricultural and horticultural sector in, and around, Greenport Venlo. These four associations work together in various areas.
These areas are marketing and communication, marketing intelligence, education and training, and infrastructure. They also strengthen regional horticulture in the broadest sense of the word. The basic principle here is that their joint activities are in the best interest of the individual growers' associations and their members.
TOP-Zuid represents more than 275 farmers. Together, these growers have thousands of hectares of cultivation acreage. This area is spread over the southeast of the Netherlands and the Euroregional border areas.
From residual waste to value creation
At the end of 2018, TOP-Zuid conducted a large-scale internal investigation. Its goal was to identify the different residual flows. It also had to determine the nature and size of food wastage as a result of unsaleable Class II and III products. The need for this research stemmed from the past summer.
During that time, various Dutch growers had to process a large percentage of their products as waste. This was due to the prolonged dry spell experienced. These products included bell peppers, tomatoes, and other crops. This situation moved food waste high up on the political agenda. TOP-Zuid wants to take a leading role in the transition from 'green waste streams' to 'green value creation'.
Four crops created more than 40,000 tons of residual flow
This internal investigation showed that there is enormous potential to add value to waste streams. These streams are generated by the covered cultivation of various crops. These include strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. In 2018 with TOP-Zuid, the total residual stream of these four priority crops amounted to more than 40,000 tons. This led to considerable costs.
For TOP-Zuid, the coming months will be dominated by taking a closer look into creating green value for these priority crops. This will be done by studying the operational, financial, technical, and legal feasibility of the various options.
Different organizations from the entire Triple Helix will be asked to take an important step in the direction of truly circular agriculture. This will be done with TOP-Zuid and in partnership with Bluehub. Bluehub is TOP-Zuid's strategic marketing and business development firm. To this end, TOP-Zuid would like to make contact with organizations with the same goal in mind.