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New plan for sustainable packaging in the Netherlands

New plan for sustainable packaging in the Netherlands

GroentenFruit Huis has reviewed the industry sustainability plan for packaging (2013-2018) to prepare an updated more rigorous sustainability plan for the fruit and vegetable sector in the 2019-2022 period. The Branch Plan is part of the sustainability programme of the GroentenFruit Huis and will be used as a guideline towards further sustainability in the field of packaging. With the Sustainable Industry Plan, Packaging GroentenFruit Huis offers its affiliated companies a framework to make packaging more sustainable.

With the new plan, minimal environmental impact is being sought through the principles of the circular economy. This marks a clear break with current developments that involve more processed and packaged “convenience” products, with even unprocessed products increasingly being packaged. A sectorial approach is now being sought through knowledge-sharing about innovations with other parties in the chain. This should lead to a visibly different image of the vegetable and fruit assortment in the supermarket and other retail channels.

In this plan, this starting point is translated into specific goals based on 5 pillars:

 1. Reduce packaging material and packaging alternatives

By 2022, the fruit and vegetable sector wants to reduce the amount (weight) of packaging material used by 15% (and by 25% for 2025) per kilogram of product sold compared to 2017.

2. Design for recycling (end-of-life)

The fruit and vegetable sector wants 90% of the packaging to be recyclable by 2022 (and 100% by 2025).

3. Raw materials and material use

The fruit and vegetable sector uses mono materials from raw materials with the lowest possible environmental impact. The materials used can be sorted out at waste processors and the material is suitable for recycling. The choice of materials will be based in 2021 on an objective measurement method for environmental impact.

 4. Transport packaging

The fruit and vegetable sector uses (within the Netherlands) reusable transport packaging that is filled as efficiently as possible.

 5. Communication & perception

The fruit and vegetable sector wants its efforts to make packaging more sustainable and to transfer the usefulness of packaging to users/consumers.


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Netherlands sees 19.5% rise in use of geothermal energy in 2018

Netherlands sees 19.5% rise in use of geothermal energy in 2018

2018 saw greater use of geothermal energy in the Netherlands, according to data published by the DAGO trade association. 3.6 PJ (petajoule) of geothermal energy was produced last year, resulting in a saving of approximately 102 million m3 of natural gas. This is equal to the gas consumption of 82,000 homes. The increase in geothermal heat is partly due to five new geothermal installations in 2018. In total there are now 20 installations in the Netherlands of which 18 are in production.

The interest in geothermal energy as a renewable energy source is increasing. At present, geothermal energy is only applied in greenhouse horticulture, in which an estimated 4.5% of the heat comes from geothermal energy. The geothermal sector is working hard on upscaling and improvement in order to meet the increasing demand. It is important that regulations are put in order and heat networks are installed. As a result, geothermics can quickly occupy a larger part of the heat supply. On a national level, this can mean a production of 50 PJ in 2030.

Source: Platform Geothermie


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Netherlands greenhouse agriculture targets climate-neutrality by 2040

invernadero climatizado

As the Dutch greenhouse agricultural sector aims to be climate-neutral by 2040, sustainable alternatives to natural gas are constantly being sought. Around twenty greenhouse producers now use a form of bio-energy to heat their farm, such as a biomass boiler for heat or a bio-cogeneration (bio-CHP) for heat and electricity.

There are different types of woody biomass, each with its own chain and its own advantages and disadvantages. Biomass boilers in greenhouse horticulture run on three types of woody biomass: wood pellets, wood chips and shreds. Most greenhouse growers use local woodchip or wood shreds, which are easily available from nearby forests and other locations. Municipalities see this as a useful use of local waste. However, the use of wood pellets is expected to rise. Pellets are compressed and dried, have a high energy density and contain up to 15% less moisture. These pellets are made from sawdust from the wood-processing industry or from clean waste wood.

There is an international market for pellets as they can be transported and stored cheaply over longer distances. It is important however to ensure that the pellets have been produced sustainably. The pellets are used in a different type of boiler than wood shreds. These boilers are often cheaper and require less maintenance as the pellets tend to be of consistent quality. There also tends to be less ash residue after combustion. However, the pellets are more expensive than shreds as they require more processing (grinding, drying and pressing).

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Dutch strawberry growers aim to vanquish the Spanish

fresas holandesas

Dutch greenhouse strawberry growers are looking to usurp the current king of the supermarkets – the Spanish strawberry. Around a dozen large-scale strawberry farms are already working to produce strawberries under glass. At present, about 75% of all strawberries in the Netherlands grow in the open, but this may not be the case for much longer. The Dutch Berries production company is just one of the firms building mega-greenhouses. Others including Beekers Berries, Diepstraten, Kwekerij Van Oers, Brookberries, Van Gennip Kwekerijen, Dutch Berries and Royal Berry are also investing in this method of cultivation, which would allow producers to harvest quality strawberries throughout the year and replace Spanish production.

There has been a marked structural change in the Dutch strawberry sector, with a shift towards fewer, large-scale producers using greenhouse technology. Between 2006 and 2017, there was an increase in volumes produced, but the number of the country’s strawberry growers fell from 830 to 450. These larger firms are better placed to make the sizeable investments required to convert to greenhouse production – the new installation of Dutch Berries cost almost €40 million.

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Notable upscaling in the Netherlands’ greenhouse vegetable production

hortalizas paises bajos

Between 1980 and 2017, the number of greenhouse vegetable growers operating in the Netherlands plummeted by 85%, according to data published by CBS Landbouwtelling 2017. Over the same period, the acreage of the remaining growers increased by 700% time, with the country’s ten largest greenhouse vegetable companies owning nearly 10% of the total area by 2017. 

This upscaling of production in the sector is evident from the revealing statistic showing that in 1980, the average greenhouse vegetable producer had 0.6 ha, whereas by 2017, the figure stood at 4 ha. Moreover, this increase in scale has been occurring ever more quickly.

Improved technology and better varieties have led to greater productivity. In 1980, a square metre yielded 40 kilograms of tomatoes, while the same area can now yield over 50 kilograms. The average production of greenhouse vegetables increased by around 36% between 2000 and 2017, while the production of strawberries and courgettes rocketed by 177% and 138% respectively. Significant growth was also recorded in the greenhouse production of tomatoes (75%) and aubergines (61%).

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World Horti Centre opened in the Netherlands


On Wednesday 7 March, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands officially opened the World Horti Centre in Naaldwijk, a worldwide knowledge & innovation centre in the heart of Dutch greenhouse horticulture. The Minister of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality, Dr. Carola Schouten, was also present at the official opening and underlined the global importance of the Dutch horticulture sector.

The Queen and the minister were led on a tour of the World Horti Centre, which contains a year-round professional trade fair and research greenhouses. Eminent has two research greenhouses in the facility, where the firm presents its latest crops and varieties and informs visitors about the firm’s assortment of specialty vegetables. The minister is reported to have enjoyed sampling for the first time the world’s smallest tomato, the Tomberry®.

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Dutch greenhouses at the forefront of geothermal technology


Twelve greenhouse farms in the Netherlands are already using geothermal energy to heat their greenhouses, with a further four set to implement the technology. With their high light transmittance and higher insulation value, the greenhouses require far less heating energy than that required by conventional structures. The results obtained by early adopters, such as Ter Laak’s sustainable greenhouse in Kasalsenergiebron, are reported to be extremely positive. The crops require less heat due to the double covering and better humidity control, leading also to a higher cultivation speed and an energy saving of at least 40%.

Despite the strict rules that must be observed, geothermal energy is today considered by some to be the best option for greenhouse horticulture. After a lead-up lasting years and teething problems during the first few weeks of start-up, the first heat from the Vierpolders geothermal source was delivered to nine participating greenhouse horticulture businesses at the end of January 2016.


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NSure launches new FreshNSure Pear test

Innovative NSure test determines 1-MCP application.

NSure extends her range of tests by introducing the FreshNSure Pear test. This test provides a practical and reliable tool to determine whether a batch of pears has been treated with 1-MCP. 1-MCP leaves no residue after treatment. The FreshNSure test clearly demonstrates whether or not 1-MCP has been applied based on the activity of a specific set of genes. The test is currently available for the important pear variety ‘Abate Fetel’. FreshNSure pear will be available for ‘Conference’ pears soon.

Pears are treated with 1-MCP to protect them from the adverse effect of ethylene, thereby improving shelf life and storability. Because 1-MCP delays ripening, it is applied in storage to maintain quality of recently harvested pears. However, the use of 1-MCP is sometimes not desirable or even allowed. Because 1-MCP leaves no residue, it is not possible to show the difference between treated or non-treated pears. Therefore, NSure has developed the FreshNSure Pear test. This test measures the activity of a selected set of genes that is affected due to 1-MCP treatment. This enables NSure to determine whether 1-MCP has been applied or not. Effect of treatment is measurable after 2 up to 20 weeks after the start of storage.

Pear samples (15 pears) should be taken directly from stored batches. FreshNSure’s practical sampling kit includes all tools needed to prepare a pear sample. One only needs to apply a few drops of juice to the sampling card. The test result will be categorized in ‘not treated’ or ‘treated’. Test results are provided within 48 hours after arrival of the sample(s) at the laboratory.

NSure collaborates with several distributors and laboratories in Europe to allow local service and guarantee the shortest turnaround times.

NSure works continuously on further development of the FreshNSure test. Recently, FreshNSure Apple has been made available for a wider range of varieties and a FreshNSure kiwifruit is expected to be released in the near future.  

If you are interested in the FreshNSure test or its possibilities for your business or varieties? Please, feel free to contact us. we’ll keep you informed about new developments  through our digital newsletter and NSure website.

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Interko achieves breakthrough with energy consumption of new ripening room fan

Dutch innovator will share its latest technological advances at Fruit Logistica 2017

Interko has raised the bar higher in its commitment to developing advanced ripening solutions for the global fresh fruit and vegetable industry.

The Dutch manufacturer has achieved a breakthrough with the energy efficiency rating of its new range of reversible ripening room fans, which are now supplied under the brand name RƎVERSO.

“Interko is the first company to manufacture a ripening room fan that achieves an energy consumption level below 100 watts per pallet at full airflow, which is fantastically low,” reveals Chris Maat, the managing partner of Interko. 

“This development will translate into considerable cost savings for our customers. Reducing energy usage and costs as much as possible is critical for many of our clients today. They also want greater flexibility, and quality is vital, of course. 

“That’s why we are constantly innovating,” Chris continues. “Client satisfaction is of paramount importance to Interko. We’re committed to developing bespoke solutions that make for extremely energy-efficient and cost-effective fruit ripening rooms to suit customers both large and small.” 

The RƎVERSO reversible fan range provides efficient air movement technology and full user-controllability within a ripening room. The fans can be controlled simply and individually, meaning they can be switched off in any unloaded bays at any given stage.

The fans can also be linked to the fully-integrated and unique Interko Smart ripening control system. This allows for precision ripening and monitoring of the ripening process to a degree that has not previously been possible.

Interko invites produce professionals to learn more about the RƎVERSO fan range at the world’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable trade show, Fruit Logistica 2017. The fair takes place in Berlin, Germany, on 8-10 February. Interko will exhibit in Hall 1.2, B-11.

“We welcome visitors to come and meet our team to discover more about the tailor-made ripening solutions and heat exchangers we offer,” Chris says. 

Record results

Every day 4 million boxes of fruit are ripened in Interko rooms worldwide. The business is expanding significantly and after closing 2016 with record results, Chris says the company is looking forward to a promising future.

“Thanks to the increasingly broad-based geographical distribution of our business, we have delivered our strongest performance to date,” Chris explains. 

“During the last 12 months we have built over 200 ripening rooms across the world; with orders coming from Europe, South America, Asia and beyond.” 

This year Interko is eager to build upon its heritage as a leading provider of fresh fruit ripening systems. At the same time the company continues to provide its clients with premium service and after-sales support. 

“A service-oriented approach has been the hallmark of our business since Interko began some 40 years ago, and, driven by our desire to provide our customers with distinctive ripening innovation, we remain as committed as ever to our long-term partnerships,” Chris says. 

Meet Interko at Fruit Logistica!

Fruit Logistica
Hall 1.2, Stand B-11
8-10 February 2017
Berlin, Germany

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India’s Mahindra buys into Dutch fruit supplier OFD Holding

India’s Mahindra says it is closer to becoming a major world player in grapes on agreeing to buy a 60% stake in Dutch global fruit distributor OFD Holding.

India’s Mahindra says it is closer to becoming a major world player in grapes on agreeing to buy a 60% stake in Dutch global fruit distributor OFD Holding.

The move will expand its sourcing base to South American countries and South Africa and its distribution to Europe, which it said is the biggest importer, accounting for 24% of global grape imports, and China, the fastest growing importer, with 31% CAGR.

OFD Holding BV owns Origin Fruit Direct, Origin Direct Asia and Origin Fruit Services South America which are based out of Netherlands, China and Chile respectively.

In a press release, Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd. (MASL) said the deal will benefit both companies – Origin Fruits’ strong distribution channel will open up global markets for Indian farmers while Mahindra will contribute its strong connection with farmer and expertise in agronomy.

MASL CEO Ashok Sharma said it will “bring in a lot of synergy by giving access to new markets to our farmers.”

OFD Holding BV & Origin Fruit Direct BV managing director Corné van de Klundert said it will also strengthen OFD’s position as an integrated supply chain company.

“OFD was founded in 2006 as the sales operation of a South African producer, and has since developed a network of key retail customers in Europe as well as Asia. India is an increasingly important supplier of grapes to our markets and Mahindra is one of the largest exporters, which is giving us access to a growing volume of excellent quality grapes. We are looking forward to intensifying our cooperation with the Mahindra team and the growers, to jointly develop innovations, new markets and customers,” van de Klundert said.

MASL is part of the US $17.8 billion Mumbai-based Mahindra group. The group’s Mahindra Agribusiness has become one of India’s largest grape exporters, launched the premium fresh fruit and dairy brand Saboro, and established ‘Farm to Fork’ presence across the Agri value chain.

OFD Holding BV had revenue of about €71 million in the year ended October 2016. Origin Fruit Direct is active year-round presence in grape and citrus markets.