Background

Marketing and trade (commerce)

The Traditional market

In the past, every HZPC market started as a Traditional market, with the shortest line from field to plate, and with the potato itself as the highest added value. The Traditional potato is not pre-processed and the grower is still the most powerful link in the value chain.

“At the market in Amman (Jordan), Mrs Zomut is buying some bags of big, yellow potatoes of the Fabula variety for four Dinars”

The potato in its standard form is central in HZPC’s traditional markets and the rural areas in the upcoming economies: unprocessed and fresh. The grower determines whether his customer buys red or white-skinned potatoes on the market. At the same time, appreciation of taste, cooking and baking characteristics is increasing in the traditional areas throughout the world. This opens up opportunities for the protected varieties of HZPC that will surpass the free varieties.

In 2013/2014, the combined sales in the traditional market by HZPC itself and Stet Holland (participating interest) – a sportsmanlike rivalry – were as much as 43 percent of the HZPC sales from the Netherlands. The worldwide turnover focuses particularly on the Mediterranean, the Eastern European countries, the Caribbean and Central and South Africa. In 2013/2014, European sales of seed produced in the Netherlands were stable; sales dropped in Northern Africa, and the upcoming markets are the Middle East and Asia. The collaboration with Mahindra in India is significant in respect of the forthcoming production of mini tubers and seed of protected HZPC varieties.

In the Traditional sector, HZPC did well in terms of supplier reliability and product quality to the grower as an end user, with shorter channels through more direct deliveries. Containers are replacing bulk, refrigerated transport is becoming popular, both within Europe by lorry and outside Europe by ship.

There are hardly any exclusive seed potato growers in traditional markets. Exceptions to the growers of licensed varieties in, for example, South Africa, who are overcoming costly, voluminous European seed potato transports and profiting from a ten-month growing season.

The demography of the world is showing opportunities: the population is expected to increase to 9 billion people. Half of the population currently lives in towns and cities and that percentage will increase towards 70 percent in 2050. More mouths to feed but from a shrinking acreage of fertile arable land as a result of erosion, desertification, climate change, urbanisation and exhaustion due to pests and diseases: that calls for productive varieties for the traditional market. The upcoming middle classes in the towns are buying processed potatoes with an added value instead of fresh, unpackaged potatoes. This leads to a change from the Traditional sector to the other HZPC sectors such as Retail Fresh, French fries, Crisps and Peeled.

The market areas served by the Traditional sector depend on political developments. Countries such as Russia and China are strict as regards to the inspection services and guarantees for disease-free regions and prefer to carry out the external inspections themselves.

A side effect of wars is that they shake up commercial relationships. As long as the logistics system remains in tact, however, this also offers market opportunities that can benefit the stricken population. A good example is the Arabian revolutions of last year, and the same applies to Syria this year. Because of the importance of local food supplies, HZPC will continue to supply seed to these countries.

The problems that HZPC encountered with the Egyptian customer have found a lasting solution in the shape of a new customer and an arrangement for the outstanding debts. The business climate in Iraq is uneasy and Syria will also be problematic again in the coming year. The production of protected HZPC varieties under licence in areas with opposite growing seasons offers opportunities which also deserve our full attention in the coming year.

“Somewhere in Barcelona, on his way to basketball training, Julio has some French fries of the robust Innovator variety together with his McDonald’s hamburger”

The Processing market in the picture: French fries, Crisps and Peeled

With HZPC’s French fries, Crisps and Peeled sectors, we focus on markets that add value to the potato and that produce convenience products such as chips, crisps or peeled and pre-boiled potatoes for ready meal producers and consumers. These sectors have grown in 2013/2014. The total turnover by weight via trade and licences amounted to 207,000 tons of seed potatoes and consequently exceeded last year’s turnover of 198,000. The Innovator, Challenger and Taurus varieties played a crucial role in the increase in weight volume. For the coming years, HZPC expects to be able to fulfil the needs of the growers market for the potato processing industry by developing new varieties of productive, resistant, sustainable, endurable and tasteful potatoes.

In the cultivation of potatoes for the processing industry, it is the processors who determine which varieties are used. In this process, growers ask for sturdy varieties with a high yield, so that they can supply the factories with the right variety and the desired quality. Thanks to our wide and thorough knowledge and expertise, we can help the grower through the cultivation of healthy and sustainable crops grown from our own varieties and the introduction of new ones.

Consistency and continuity are important objectives for the grower. We enter into long-term contracts with the processors for large quantities of seed. The growers enter into contracts with the processors for many hectares of consumption potatoes. This is how we can guarantee our seed potato growers long-term sales contracts and continuity.

Value chains

We organise our Processing value chains as efficiently as possible, with as few links as possible between the growers and the potato processor, because this is the most cost efficient way. In doing so, we are continuing our policy of recent years and eliminating links wherever possible. Where possible, we deliver our seed straight to the customers, professional seed distributors and processers with whom we have had a business relationship for many years. This is how we can remain competitive, offer growers a good price and ultimately make a positive contribution to HZPC’s financial results.

Logistics

It is the wish of our customers in the processing sectors for the latest generation of seed to be grown in the areas where potatoes are cultivated for the processing industry. Therefore, seed is preferably grown locally. This drastically limits the distance that seed needs to travel, which is a positive development in respect of sustainability and efficiency.

Quality

Quality is key in the French fries, Crisps and Peeled sectors. It’s all about the cultivation of the very best potatoes that fulfil a number of specific characteristics: genetic (low sugar content, high dry matter content), agronomic (resistance and high yield) and consumer perception (taste and texture).  The number of suitable varieties for these sectors is small. We supply the same quality for the newer varieties that are being developed for the Processing sectors.

Reliability

We like to enter into a durable, long-lasting relationship with our partners and buyers in the Processing sectors. We want to be considered as a reliable partner and regard this as our core quality that comes back in all our activities: the quality of our seed, our variety portfolio, our presence in the world, our speed in trading and delivering, and our contribution towards the development of responsible food supplies for a growing world population. We make no concessions in the domain of reliability.

“After school, Désirée, a French girl, enjoys a handful of Lay’s barbecue flavour potato crisps”

Varieties

In the Processing sectors, this concerns a small portfolio of top quality varieties that fulfil the wishes of the players in the chain: grower, potato processor, restaurants, supermarkets and consumer.

For the French-fry market this concerns the cultivation of high-quality varieties that can be grown and processed throughout the world. In this context, McDonald’s has a preference for white-fleshed varieties. For them, in addition to the Innovator, we developed the white-fleshed Ivory Russet, which is a welcome addition to the existing potato varieties for the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and Foodservice market. We have high expectations of this variety, especially for the American market.

The retail market, however, asks for multi-functional varieties. Challenger has developed well for this market in recent years. The variety offers advantages for both the processor and the grower as compared to the existing varieties, which is why we can sell large quantities of Challenger in many countries.

The breeding plots for new varieties include a number of promising candidates; besides having good QSR characteristics, they are also resistant to a wide range of diseases. These varieties will be thoroughly trialled in the coming years.

In the Peeled market, the most dominant varieties are Saline and the multifunctional Challenger and Sagitta. For the Crisps market, the Taurus is a strong grower in terms of yield, countries and customers. The Crisps4all is also maintaining an excellent position in the market. One promising new variety is the Heraclea, which we introduced in 2014. This variety has a long storage life, low sugar content and a good yield. We will continue to develop the market for the Heraclea in the coming years.

We are going to expand our portfolio for all the sectors within Processing in the coming years. We will be aiming for productive, resistant potato varieties with high yields that also meet the taste and visual perception requirements of the consumer.

These new varieties will need a very careful introduction. We will take care that growers are properly advised by our product managers. Growers will receive proactive improved advice for every new variety from our knowledge centre so that we can guarantee optimum production. Yield and quality will be sustainable if the correct cultivation methods are used, allowing our new varieties to develop successfully in the market.

During the KLM flight to join his orchestra in Belgrade, Jan Simek eats a meal of fennel-mash and a slice of softly-cooked salmon with sauce béarnaise

Market development

Although the French-fry market is shrinking in North America, India and China are upcoming markets for French fries. It is our aim to be active in all the countries where French fries are produced. We are pleased with the way the Crisps market has improved in the past year, in volume as well as in the number of countries and customers. Growth in the Peeled market has levelled off for the second consecutive year due to the economic situation.

 

Peeled and pre-boiled potatoes are popular in Northern Europe, countries where cooked meals are still traditionally eaten at midday. Slowly but surely, the Peeled potato products are finding their way into other countries, the United States for example. The challenge is to become market leader in all the countries in which we are active.

Growing prosperity

The demand for processed potato products increases as a country develops economically and prosperity grows for the inhabitants. Processing sectors are therefore still growing, in particular in areas outside North America and Europe: the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America, Africa and the Far East. Sales increased again in 2013/2014.

We have built up a good position for French-fry products and we see growth mainly continuing to increase in the so-called BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, while the demand for French fries is also growing in Eastern Europe. Thanks to our many years of experience and expertise in the French-fry market, we will be a key player for many years to come. We have taken our first steps in the Crisps market, but we will have to prove ourselves in the future.

Yields/Marketing

In the Processing sectors, we can look back on a very good year where volume is concerned. The price level was good and the seed potato production was again higher than the previous year. We will continue the upward trend in volume in the coming years, in particular in the French-fry and Crisps markets. We will have to acquire a larger market share in the Peeled market with the new products that we will be developing in the coming years.

French fries | Crisps | Peeled

FRENCH FRIES The worldwide increase in quick service restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s is pushing up the demand for French fries and its related products in the world market. A large part of the consumption potatoes is processed into French fries or potato slices, convenience products that can go straight from package to pan. Within the French-fry sector we serve three markets with processed potatoes: Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), Foodservice and the retail market. The most important market is QSR,

which serves McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Burger King and others. The retailers are the supermarkets that sell those processed potatoes, the French fries, potato slices and potato wedges. Foodservice companies, finally, focus on restaurants. The multifunctional varieties Innovator and Challenger are favourite by far in these markets. With new varieties such as Ivory Russet, we aim to raise our market share. America is an important market for us where we intend to continue to grow significantly in the coming years.

CRISPS The crisps market is growing exponentially in the upcoming economies of the BRIC countries Brazil, Russia, India and China and the CIVETS countries, Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa. The Crisps sector serves the worldwide crisps market. Sales are increasing and with the high-quality varieties Taurus and Crisps4all, we take a position in a broad market.

In order to continue to grow, our range will be expanded with new varieties in the coming year. This year, we introduced the Heraclea for this market. In addition, we are focusing on the development of new potato varieties with a high dry-matter content and low sugar content, high resistance, good texture, consistency and naturally, a high yield.

PEELED Consumers in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Belgium are the main buyers of peeled and pre-boiled potatoes through supermarket chains. For this market, we work together with professional peelers in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. Peeled and pre-boiled potatoes are mainly sold to the retail market and the foodservice and industrial kitchen businesses in private label packaging. An important market is Northern Europe, which includes Scandinavia where cooked meals are served in works canteens during lunch hour and, in the future, possibly the United States.

We have worked with the Saline variety for this market for many years. In addition, we are having good results with the multifunctional varieties Sagitta and Challenger. We are looking to widen our range and develop new varieties that are better suited to the needs of that market. For the grower, this means a high resistance, for the processor reliability and a good yield, and for the consumer good taste, consistent quality and texture.

The Retail Fresh market

In well-developed markets and in urban areas throughout the world, consumers are less often buying potatoes unpackaged at the market or the greengrocer, and more often pre-packaged through fresh chains such as supermarkets. In this Retail Fresh chain, the packager and the supermarket dominate because of their choice of varieties, packaging, prices and position on the shelves.

In Northwest Europe, Australia and North America, over 80 percent of the unprocessed potatoes are sold via fresh food chains. Southern Europe is more traditional and the percentage is 65 there. The Eastern European market is still in its infancy and less than 35 percent is sold via the supermarket. In upcoming economies, the population buys potatoes at traditional day markets, except in the urban areas of these countries.

Our breakthrough into the lucrative American market, dominated by white-fleshed potato varieties, was heralded by the introduction of tasty, yellow-fleshed HZPC potatoes with a consistent quality. Exactly today, our position in the yellow-fleshed market is opening doors for new, well-tasting, consistent white-fleshed varieties. In just eleven years, HZPC has played an important role by building up a 7.5 percent market share from scratch in trans-Atlantic market for yellow-fleshed varieties.

“The firm, dark-yellow Annabelle potatoes on the the Müller family’s Villeroy & Boch tableware in Hannover come from nearby Aldi Nord”

Client knowledge

In the Retail Fresh chain, the road to the consumer’s plate is a long one. That road starts at the HZPC breeding station, continues at our seed potato growers, from where the harvest goes, directly or indirectly, via packagers and distributors to the consumption potato growers. Their harvests go to the packagers and, finally, the distributors transport the bags of potatoes to the freshfood chains where they often enter the shop by large wheeled container.

Supermarkets themselves do not carry out research into what the consumer really wants to eat. Because of the absence of a marketing strategy, the valuable, versatile potato does not always end up where it should. The potato in its purest form is faced with high-consistency competitors such as pre-cooked pasta and rice, convenience food such as pizzas and ready meals and, outside the freshfood chain, the takeaway and quick service restaurants.

Within the Retail Fresh chain of the potato market, HZPC tries to think in a client-oriented way, i.e.: past the next link, as far as the supermarket customer’s meal. This is necessary to give the potato the position it deserves. Upgrading the potato: we do that with the full support of the international potato world. In the Netherlands, with the Dutch Potato Organisation (NAO), and the partners in the Retail Fresh chain, for example.

The big question is: what does the current ‘Generation Y’ want, those between 20 and 35 years, who have just started a family and are in their first or second jobs? One thing is clear for this assertive generation: as a consumer, he wants predictability. He has already made a choice in the past, and wants to make the same choice today and know what he is going to get. The packaging, the place, the price, the variety, the shape, the peeling, the cooking, the quality – all this needs to be the same as it was yesterday. At first sight, it seems that this is in direct contrast with his desires: because Generation Y wants Variety, Convenience and Pleasure.

Consistency, Variety, Convenience and Pleasure? The sector is no where near this ideal. This is typified by the market in 2012/2013. The season was good for growers of consumption potatoes outside the United Kingdom: among other things, the low yields in that country resulted in a shortage and consequently in higher prices in the other European Retail Fresh countries. Another thing was that high prices were being paid in the shop for poor quality. The consumer refused to accept this and switched to dishes with rice and pasta. The consequence for the 2013/2014: season was that the tonnage sold was 5 to 8 percent lower in nearly all European countries and the question is whether or not this can be rectified.

Consistency is therefore important to the customer, and HZPC wants to achieve that consistency with the partners in the chain. A great deal is to be expected in the coming years from the greatly improved presentation of potatoes as a healthy, affordable, inspiring and tasty crop, which will be achieved through appealing packaging designs, new presentations on the supermarket shelves and improved varieties.

Perupas

And what about Variety, Convenience and Pleasure? The wishes of the end users whom we serve via the Retail Fresh chain have been reported back to our breeding station in Metslawier. This has led to the development of a new potato family of colourful Perupas and a completely new market approach. Facebook.com/perupas says more than a thousand words. There is great deal of interest for the Perupas from many countries and customers. It is an example of what we can expect from new varieties and their marketing.

Organic

The market for organic varieties with a quality mark has proved to be unsustainable and is, moreover, not recession-proof. The primary motive of the consumer of organic products is his own health and that of his children. Other important factors are taste and shape but, in the end, the price seems to be the deciding factor.

HZPC is convinced that pure organic methods will not produce the sustainable potato crop that can feed the growing world population. Our laboratory in Metslawier is examining how the optimisation of developed, resistant varieties and a minimum of extra work can contribute better to a sustainable and healthy future for all, with potatoes that make the consumer happy.

Production and Logistics

A good schedule determines the success of the production. Efficient planning and logistics contribute to the optimum production and export of seed potatoes. Moreover, it is a challenge to be able to guarantee seed of the highest quality. We handle 512,000 tons of seed via Production and Logistics.

Acreage development

The total seed potato acreage of the growers who are affiliated to HZPC has increased by 5 percent to 17,700 hectares in the past year. As expected, this growth occurred in countries outside the Netherlands. The HZPC acreage increased from 4,110 to 4,844 hectares in Germany, Finland, France, Poland, the United Kingdom. Thanks to a broader crop rotation programme and more available land, product expansion is easier in these countries than it is in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, the acreage has remained stable at around 11,200 hectares. However, there is a trend in Europe for the acreage per grower to increase while the number of growers decreases. This development will continue in the coming years.

Growing season 2013

In spite of a cold spring, the weather conditions in Europe were generally good for the production of seed potatoes. In some countries, including Poland and the Netherlands, there was a slight delay in planting due to cold and wet weather conditions.

The production of seed was somewhat higher than HZPC expected thanks to an above-average yield in the United Kingdom. In the other European countries, yields were average, with Sweden as the country with the lowest yield per hectare. In the Netherlands, the average yield was forty tons per hectare.

The size of the seed is a delicate aspect which we like to keep under control. ‘We aim for as much seed as possible in the standard seed size, because all our buyers like to plant a good product. But a product of nature remains unpredictable with the result that a great deal of the seed was oversized this year. Nonetheless, we were able to sell the entire yield either as seed or as consumption potatoes.

Export season

For HZPC, the Netherlands is the biggest export country, also to countries in Europe. From HZPC Holland alone, over 280,000 tons of seed were exported to around 85 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, South America and Asia. Growers in other European countries who produce HZPC seed, do so first and foremost for their own markets. The production in Canada is mainly for the Canadian market and further for the US market.

Our finely-tuned logistics organisation is of major importance for the traditional, fast-growing markets in the Middle East, Northern and Central Africa and Asia. HZPC works actively and closely with local growers in the Netherlands, the Dutch Inspection Service, suppliers of packaging, transporters and stevedores as a result of which it is possible to export large amounts of seed efficiently and in a short period of time.

Quality control

The long-term quality of seed is of the utmost importance, and we want to guarantee it throughout the entire value chain. In this past year, we paid extra attention to quality in the domains of pest control and cultivation techniques.

Pest control

Many export countries, particularly the countries around the Mediterranean, have raised the quality requirements for seed potatoes. In order to continue to guarantee supplies to these markets in Northern Africa and the Middle East, we have decided to raise the HZPC standard for growers; it is now stricter than the standard set by the General Inspection Service for Agricultural Seed and Seed Potatoes (NAK) for Silver scurf, because we want to do better than the NAK standard.

According to the new standard, no more than ten percent of the potatoes in any batch of seed may have more than one-third of the surface covered with Silver scurf. In the old standard this was one-quarter. In addition, we make information about diseases available to growers; we supervise them and take logistical measures to control Silver scurf.

Cultivation methods

In 2013, we convened growers’ meetings about the preservation of healthy soil. Important focal points for increasing the yield include measures such as fertilisation and soil structure. Soil is the most important production factor for our growers, and these meetings, which are organised by HZPC, were very much appreciated.

Morocco

Once in two years, we organise a trip for the Board of Growers to an export country. In 2013 that country was Morocco, an important and reliable export country for HZPC for many years. The Dutch seed potato varieties are highly sought-after thanks to their high quality, long-lasting, disease-free growing power and high nutritious levels.

Morocco annually needs 150,000 tons of seed, 25 percent of which is imported. As the biggest supplier, the Netherlands supplies as much as 70 percent of the amount of imported seed. The most popular variety is red-skinned Desirée with a 60 percent market share. This variety has a high yield and is Phytophthora resistant, a combination which Moroccan growers like very much. The first crop in Morocco with imported seed is planted in January-February and harvested in May-June. The second crop is planted in August-September, from potatoes that the farmers have held back. The Moroccan farmer therefore earns more from his second crop.

Logistics

The logistics that are necessary to move large quantities of seed quickly and efficiently to their places of destination is an operation that has our constant attention, and one in which we aim for sustainability and guaranteed product quality.

Within Europe, transport is carried out by container lorry, outside Europe container transport by water is gaining in popularity over the original bulk transport by ship. Refrigerated-container transport is also becoming popular.

Our growers are certainly geared to having their produce transported efficiently by container. Together with the transporters and the NAK, they form a well-oiled team that acts appropriately at the moment it is necessary.

Research and Breeding

We want to continuously enhance our knowledge in the domain of seed potato breeding. We want to expand our gene bank. We want to grow more mini tubers for a qualitatively better seed potato end product. It has been five years since HZPC started using its sustainable greenhouse complex in the village of Metslawier. The art of breeding is predominantly a question of optimising and balancing.

“We want to expand our gene bank. We want to grow more mini tubers for a qualitatively better seed potato end product.”

Precisely what HZPC does in Metslawier:

  1. Research into the potato: its molecular biology, biochemistry, diseases, genetic basis and various qualities;
  2. Breeding: breeding and selecting new potato varieties in accordance with the wishes of the value chains that HZPC serves;
  3. Production of mini tubers, to enhance quality and control diseases.

Specialists

For its specialist knowledge, HZPC Research can pride itself on talents from China, France, Poland, Spain and the University of Wageningen. The potato genome has been fully mapped out since 2009. This enabled HZPC’s molecular biologists to develop advanced market technology for the rapid selection of promising hybrid varieties. This shortens the breeding time and, consequently, the time to market for new varieties. Now and in the near future, markers will make it possible to forecast matters such as yield, resistance to disease, processing quality, taste and colour.

Our breeders are searching for potato characteristics that add value to the chains within the five HZPC market sectors. HZPC is itself responsible for the breeding of new varieties together with 39 active affiliated, trusted breeders that work exclusively for HZPC. They also use the HZPC marker technology that is used for the quick and accurate determination of hereditary characteristics in the new hybrid varieties.

A potato is a healthy foodstuff, but susceptible to diseases and to farming problems such as drought, flooding and salinisation. HZPC’s phytopathologists are working on the prevention of pests such as nematodes, bacterial infections (Erwinia), Phytophthora and Early blight.

Results

In 2013, HZPC registered 9 new varieties for plant breeders' rights and Gioconda, Navigator, Orlena, Sunita, Talentine, Blue Star, Magenta Love and Violet Queen were approved and placed on the Varieties List. Varieties that are grown as seed potatoes on more than 100 hectares are considered sufficiently profitable for the market according to HZPC’s standards. In 2013/2014 that was Colomba, an early, luxury, high-yielding variety for the Retail Fresh and Traditional markets.

HZPC in Metslawier produces ten percent more mini tubers every year and has reached a total quantity of 4.2 million. This development ensues from the need to grow fewer generations of seed in order to improve the quality and prevent diseases from creeping in.

Opportunities

HZPC picks up worldwide developments and trends that can be significant for our Research & Breeding. In upcoming economies, the growing middle classes benefit from the added value that potatoes have to offer over the traditional staple foods. Even the average citizen in a western economy is making a leap forward with the potato on the menu. Not as a side dish, but as the main meal, right in the middle of the plate. If you do not want to put on weight, the potato is the ideal 'balanced product', with sufficient energy of the right kind. For people who are mindful of their food, the potato provides a tasty, varied meal that is high in nutritional value, with essential nutrients such as potassium, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, carotene and bioactive components such as antioxidants, but without gluten or cholesterol.

  • The growing, prosperous world population can afford the potato more and more. If there are going to be 9 billion people on earth in a few years’ time, the production of potatoes will have to increase by over 30 percent. It is a challenge for HZPC to maximise the genetic power of the potato in order to structurally increase the yield per geographic region.
    HZPC Research is working on a significant increase in the potato yields.
     
  • For the potato, the genetic material (genome), the environment (agronomic circumstances) and the human handling determine its form (phenotype) and performance. The world is wrestling with decreasing agricultural land, droughts, floods and salinisation, with a shortage of fertilisers, and with restrictions as to the use of pesticides.
    HZPC Research is working on varieties which perform effectively under the prevailing agronomic circumstances.
     
  • HZPC Research works for and is inspired by the five market sectors Traditional, French fries, Crisps, Peeled and Retail Fresh. Upcoming markets are rapidly developing: where Traditional demands quantity in order to feed the growing population, it is precisely those parts of the world that also show a rapid development towards urbanisation. China, India and Indonesia are evolving towards an intermediate stage in which traditional potato varieties are pre-packaged for shop shelves. A market will then develop in these countries for packaged potatoes in typical Retail Fresh varieties (with all the advantages in terms of shelf life, washability, good external qualities or robustness).
    HZPC Research is working on flexible answers to questions from the dynamic world of the upcoming economies.
     
  • In the processing sectors, HZPC has to rise to the challenge of adding value to its potato varieties that goes beyond the industrial processing.
    HZPC Research is working on adding required standards which are intrinsic to the potato variety.

Staff and Talent Management (HRM)

HZPC is building up sustainable relationships within the five value chains it serves. Within those chains, we want to distinguish ourselves through our excellent, market-oriented supplies, ánd through the extensive experience and knowledge of our invaluable employees who are making all this possible. Highly-qualified employees, a varied inflow to springboard jobs, and continued growth are conditions that can make our ambition a reality.

HZPC represents a tradition of over a hundred years. The end of the twentieth century marked the beginning of a new era in its long history; a beginning with a burning international ambition in a globalising world. The first development stage on the international playing field is characterised by the intensification of Dutch exports. After the start of HZPC in 2000, the young company expanded rapidly. The second stage in the realisation of the international ambitions soon presented itself; HZPC pushed out its borders in a rapid tempo by increasing its number of branches abroad. At this moment, the third stage kicked off: HZPC is a global company that welcomes the world in the form of well-educated, all-round and international talent, for research and breeding, both at HZPC’s head-office and at the participating interests elsewhere in the world. Our employees are highly-educated (75 percent of last year's inflow has completed Higher Professional Education or better). The age composition is varied. Of the employees that started work in the past five years, 40 percent is younger than 40 years, 30 percent is between thirty and forty years, and 30 percent is in the age category forty to sixty-five.

Of all HZPC staff, 38 percent has worked for the company less than five years and is therefore in the natural stepping-up stage. All employees are encouraged to move on in their careers and continue to develop. Seven out of ten employees have used their growth opportunities in the past year for training and/or study.

We are looking for talented people in the various countries in which we are active. so as to help build up those countries. We encourage synergy among those countries. The results are clearly visible with French, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Dutch ‘immigrants’ employed at the various HZPC locations. International colleagues also go out into the world after their initial experiences at our head office in the Netherlands. We currently have 16 different nationalities working for HZPC. The world market demands varieties that are better geared to the diverse market and cultivation conditions. Moreover, HZPC wants to expand its expertise and gene bank, and achieve an even better lead in the domains of variety development and mini tuber cultivation. Also where our talented staff is concerned, innovation is the result of cross-fertilisation among them. We are looking far and wide and focus on the best educated people in their fields: molecular biologists, phytopathologists, biochemists and biometrists. And we must also be able to look beyond the potato, to a fresh contribution in terms of knowledge and experience in the domains of variety development and the cultivation of other plant species.

HZPC is highly specialised and, moreover, it has all the facets of a professional international company. And that’s why we continue to professionalise our marketing, sales and communication, finances, computerisation and automation. As a result of this professionalisation and specialisation, HZPC offers over a hundred different types of employment positions.

At HZPC, we know how exciting the potato world is, something which is not always understood in the outside world. It is for this reason that HZPC is eager to present its story to the outside world, and especially to the jobs market. We will find the talented new people through our communications about who we are, what we do and what our objectives are. Not only by talking about the ins and outs of the potato, but also by taking people around the HZPC business. Our company is expanding rapidly but has the compact size that offers excellent opportunities for enterprising people who have plenty to offer in terms of education and ambition.

The Management and Supervision (Public and Private Companies) Act has effect as from 1 January 2013. The Management and Supervision (Public and Private Companies) Act includes a provision on the balanced division of seats on the Management and Supervisory Boards between men and women. The division of seats of the company fails to comply with this provision. There were no vacancies in the Management Board and the Supervisory Board in this financial year. As soon as this is the case, the Company will view the possibility of coming to a more balanced division. The Company does not use target figures for women in management positions or other specific target groups, but does aim for a balanced composition of the workforce of the organisation in its recruitment and selection procedures.

Sustainability

Our policies today may not threaten the freedom to act of future generations. Continuity in our policy will result into honest, society-oriented business operations. At HZPC, we are contributing to the development and production of sufficient and healthy food for a growing world population in a long-term, responsible way, with respect for man and the environment.

Sustainability – three pillars

HZPC gives meaning to its sustainability policies through the three pillars ‘care for the environment’, ‘food security’ and 'social commitment’. Sustainability in our business operations is judged by the influence of our products and activities on the environment. We make choices in the development and production of seed, the use of energy, the production resources deployed, the organisation of transport, and travel. And, naturally, we wish to justify those choices.

Pillar 1: Care for sustainable land management

A healthy soil is beneficial for the quality of the seed and for good yields for a long time to come. The highest yield is generally about twice as great as the lowest, and this is entirely attributable to the quality of the soil and the materials used (i.e. seed potatoes).

HZPC has become a partner of the Skylark Foundation [Stichting Veldleeuwerik]. This is a foundation that helps growers make their soil fertile for sustainable crop farming. HZPC encourages its growers to participate in this foundation. The growers are able to draw up their own policy plan and choose their own action points in order to monitor and safeguard the quality of the soil. Skylark checks that these individual objectives are accomplished. The objective to have at least 25 new HZPC growers participate in the foundation has easily been reached.

We also advise our growers about sustainable crop farming. What we have noticed is that growers need more knowledge and practical tips about how to acquire and maintain healthy soil. Issues such as water management, crop protection chemicals, biodiversity and crop rotation are all addressed. The reactions from the growers are mostly positive, the meetings are highly appreciated, because his land is the grower’s most valuable production resource, and one which has to be dealt with sensibly.

Pillar 2: Healthy, environmentally-friendly potato varieties

The growing world population and greater prosperity has consequences for the need for food and the use of natural resources. Sufficient healthy agricultural land and sufficient suitable water are becoming increasingly scarce. In order to meet the growing need for food, we will have to achieve greater productivity on the available agricultural land, with less water and taking care to maintain the quality of the soil.

In our breeding strategy, we specifically focus on the development of potato varieties that can be grown in difficult climatic and agronomic conditions, and which need less water and fewer fertilisers and crop protection chemicals.

The knowledge and experience HZPC has built up during the development and cultivation of potato varieties with high agronomic and food qualities are shared with our buyers and any other interested parties. For example, we make the genetics of our varieties available for the development and marketing of potato varieties, and we are working on a sustainability index for varieties, which will contribute in a responsible way to healthy food for the world population.

Pillar 3: Social commitment

We put our social commitment into practice in our company and in the community, in both the social field and within the business chain.

This year, we have been involved in the International Potato Center in Peru, the National School Garden Project in the Netherlands and the local Food Banks in Joure and Dokkum.

In Peru, we are working together with the International Potato Center. This is a small-scale initiative set up to protect the indigenous potato varieties, and to support the farmers who grow the genetic material of the potato in this area. In this way, we are helping preserve the old varieties and investing in the community of the potato farmers in Peru who benefit from the project (benefit sharing).

The National School Garden Project is an initiative of Spar supermarkets, and has been set up to make children aware of the origins of healthy food and to stimulate a healthy lifestyle. In the Netherlands, 1500 schools with 30,000 children are participating. As one of the partners from this project, HZPC supplies the potatoes in the vegetable garden package.

The food banks in Joure, Dongeradeel and Dantumadeel (in the province of Friesland) provide food for people who are in a tight spot as a result of the continuing recession. The food banks are affiliated to the Provincial Foundation of Collaborating Food Banks in Friesland. HZPC provides the food banks with potatoes and string bags.

The HZPC Charity Commission also supports a number of small private projects of HZPC-staff, which we endorse wholeheartedly. In 2014, we picked the following projects:

Project Bagepalli is a special development project in the farming area of Bagepalli in India, which makes it possible for twelve disadvantaged, promising children from the farming community to study at the National College of Bagepalli for three years. Bagepalli has a very dry climate and farming is the only economic activity. The knowledge these young students acquire in the area of farming can help the entire farming community.

The Sailing Wish Foundation [Stichting Vaarwens] collects sponsor funds in order to organise free sailing trips in a renovated ship for children and adults who need intensive medical care.

International Justice Mission is a human rights organisation that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.

Sustainability report

In order to get the sustainability policy across well, we published a separate sustainability annual report* at the end of August. In this annual report, HZPC focuses specifically on all the aspects of socially-responsible entrepreneurship in our value chains and the community around us. Mindful of the sustainability idea, we published this annual report completely digitally.

Our sustainability objectives in a nutshell:

  • To develop and cultivate sustainable potato varieties in a responsible way in order to contribute to healthy food for the world population;
  • To develop a sustainability index for varieties;
  • To produce locally (‘local for local’); To multiply seed potatoes in countries in which HZPC has branches or participating interests, as close as possible to the buyers;
  • To optimise the utilisation of greenhouses, with a higher capacity utilisation rate, so that the energy use is more efficient. Heat-recovery installations have been installed in the greenhouses in Metslawier to achieve greater energy-efficiency;
  • To make transport more efficient en sustainable, among other things, to organise container transport via inland shipping, and to set out criteria for the sustainability policy of the transport company when transport equipment is purchased;
  • An energy conservation plan for five HZPC locations, including a plan for cooling and storage for three buildings; To purchase 100 percent sustainable green energy for the HZPC Holland sites for which the contracts were concluded. From 1 January 2015, HZPC will purchase green energy for all its Dutch branches. Moreover, HZPC is examining the possibility of installing solar panels.
  • To limit travelling and use alternatives such as video conferencing. To endeavour wherever possible, to look for alternatives for international meetings.
  • To decrease the use of paper through digitising and double-sided printing. We have already made substantial progress here by distributing invoices, minutes, salary slips and invitations in digital form as much as possible. Moreover, old printers are being replaced by double-sided printing equipment.

Other chapters

Our Annual Report read this chapter Overview and Strategy read this chapter Corporate Management read this chapter Annual Account of HZPC Holland B.V. Table of content of Annual Account read this chapter Consolidated balance sheet read this chapter Consolidated profit and loss account read this chapter Consolidated cash-flow statement read this chapter Notes to the consolidated financial statements read this chapter Notes to the consolidated balance sheet read this chapter Notes to the consolidated profit and loss account read this chapter Parent company balance sheet read this chapter Parent company profit and loss account read this chapter Notes to the parent company financial statements read this chapter Other information read this chapter

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