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News - 30-05-2024

Dutch supermarkets increasingly switch to organic-only options

Consumption of organic produce in the Netherlands has risen 42% in the past two years, and the amount of production area devoted to organic crops increased by 9% in 2023 alone. A growing number of vegetables on supermarket shelves are only available as an organic option. Dutch beetroot is a prime example of this development. “This has been achieved through close collaboration in the value chain,” says organic arable and outdoor vegetable grower Piet van Andel.

The Beetroot Club

Piet cultivates an impressive 80 hectares of beetroot, including the Rijk Zwaan variety Monty RZ. He has been working for decades to improve how organic products are promoted. As part of this, he co-founded a processing organisation called Beetz and a marketing organisation called De Bietenclub (‘The Beetroot Club’), among other initiatives. “In recent years, as Dutch growers, we have succeeded in ensuring that almost all major retailers in the Netherlands sell only organic beetroot from us, all year round,” he says.

Organic-only onions in a net

Since the beginning of this year, the same holds true for pre-packed onions. Piet: “We reached an agreement with grocery retailer Plus that it will offer three onions in a net as an organic-only option from now on. That’s really good news for us.” He explains that retailers are more likely to make the switch to organic-only when the products are both available and affordable. Other examples include white and red cabbages, parsnips, pumpkins and baby romaine lettuce, for instance.

Working together to stimulate cultivation and consumption

Rijk Zwaan wholeheartedly supports this development. In fact, Heleen Bos, Marketing Specialist Organics at Rijk Zwaan, actively seeks ways to collaborate. For example, she is an enthusiastic participant in De Bietenclub. “By working together in initiatives like this, we can stimulate the consumption of organic products. Organic association Bionext recently asked us which other vegetables we regard as promising for organic-only retail options.”

To make organic cultivation even easier, the vegetable breeding company is focusing on developing strong varieties with extensive disease resistances. “This is very important for growers of organic vegetables,” Heleen states.

Beetroot steak

Pete has another piece of interesting news about beetroot. In September 2023, a unique product hit the shelves: a 100% plant-based, organic and dry-aged beetroot steak.

“Chef Gijs Kemmeren came up with the idea for the beetroot steak during the COVID pandemic,” Piet explains. “Large beetroots – bigger than 80 millimetres in diameter – are too big for standard packaging. So he decided to process them, altering the texture of the beetroot and then giving it time to dry and mature. This resulted in the beetroot steak. It’s an attractive product, similar to a tender piece of meat. There was so much demand for it that he eventually partnered with Beetz. This is a great way to further stimulate beetroot consumption.”

Check out the story on our consumer platform LoveMySalad to read how grower Piet, processor Gerjan and De Bietenclub are conquering the Netherlands with organic beetroot.

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Heleen Bos
Marketing specialist Organics / Foreign Development Projects