Netherlands: Organic sector is maturing

The organic market in Holland has more than doubled in size during the last ten years. What started out as a handful of idealists in the seventies has matured into a professional industry subject to government regulation.

According to Arend Zeelenberg, manager at Frugi Venta and Bionext, that professional attitude has crept into the sector year by year. “The original initiators, the ones who introduced the concept in the seventies, knew much about the produce, but next to nothing about marketing. That aspect of the business developed over the years. Knowledge and capacity has increased exponentially. Technological advance has certainly contributed.”

The success of organic produce, according to Zeelenberg, owes much to the fact that consumers have become more conscious about their food. “Customers don’t just throw something in their basket, they want to know about the product: where is it from? How was it produced?”

Another contributor to the success story is the EKO hallmark, the label guaranteeing organic origin. “The label has become familiar to people. It’s a good marketing tool that helps promote organic produce.”

More and more growers switch from regular to organic produce, and according to Zeelenberg, the market is by no means saturated. “Holland, and especially the Dutch retail sector, can still use suppliers of organic fruit and vegetables.”

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