3 years ago

The Partnership no. 13

  • Text
  • Enza
  • Tomatoes
  • Partnership
  • Zaden
  • Tomato
  • Biodiversity
  • Melon
  • Varieties
  • Flavour
  • Consumer

More eye for demand

More eye for demand The several million Polish people who lived elsewhere in Europe for a limited period or indefinitely were also introduced to fruit and vegetables that were hardly known or available in their home country. These new experiences and the gradual increase in prosperity of the population resulted in major shifts in supply and demand. “In the larger cities, the vegetable sections currently look very different than ten years ago, when supply was much more limited and traditional. As far as lettuce was concerned, you used to see almost nothing other than butterhead lettuce. In addition to butterhead lettuce, the Polish consumer can now choose from iceberg lettuce, oakleaf lettuce, radicchio rosso, rocket and corn salad. Many leaf crops are now also supplied ready-to-eat, because the Polish consumer is also more frequently opting for the convenience of ready-made meal components.” The supply of cabbage crops has also undergone significant changes. Previously the heavy headed cabbages dominated, sometimes weighing 6 or 7 kilograms each. The growers are now using different varieties, which produce much smaller cabbages. This fits in better with the current requirements, which are characterised by smaller households and a more varied menu. Due to this same expansion, crops such as pak choi, that were virtually unknown until recently, are now finding their way into the Polish growing plans and store shelves. A third product category that has seen a strong development over the past decade is the tomato. “At the start of the century we almost exclusively grew beef tomatoes here. This type is still very important, but it has now received company from a wide range of vine tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.” More high-tech glasshouse cultivation According to Malinowski, the growth of the Polish high-tech glasshouse industry, which currently comprises about 1100 ha of high tech tomatoes glasshouses and 650 ha of high tech cucumber glasshouses, can be attributed to both the increased demand for new tomato types and the more stringent quality requirements from wholesale, retail and consumer. “You can manage the growing conditions more accurately in modern glasshouses. This results not only in a longer growing season and a higher, more predictable yield, but also in improved and more consistent product quality. 10 | The Partnership

Today’s consumers are a lot more demanding than they were twenty years ago. This has resulted in the open-field cultivation being entirely or partially replaced by cultivation under protection for a number of products. Sometimes under foil, but increasingly in ultra-modern glasshouses. In addition, glasshouse crops offer more options to use biological pest controls and reduce the use of chemical crop protection products. This wish expressed by society is becoming increasingly evident in the primary sector.” Transformation Reflecting on the past 15 years, Malinowski concludes that the Polish vegetable cultivation has undergone a real transformation. This process is far from complete. The number of companies is still decreasing. Particularly the small, often outdated farms are ceasing production or being taken over by larger, modern and market-oriented companies that have greater financial clout. “The market is very dynamic and presents many challenges. One of these challenges is the increasing domestic demand for organically grown vegetables. This market segment is really developing now and Polish farmers could benefit from this more than they are currently doing. In that regard, their colleagues in Western Europe and North America really are a few steps ahead.” Enza Zaden can make a valuable contribution in helping Poland to catch up. Both via the strongly expanding organic seed devision Vitalis and via the Polish subsidiary, which recently expanded its sales force to five people. Market-oriented collaboration According to Malinowski, a second challenge for Polish farmers is to strengthen their market knowledge, marketing skills and sales power. He emphasises that “The main requirement for this is cooperation. The message that I would like to pass on is that your neighbours are not only your competitors, they can also be really good partners. With an open mindset and the willingness to share knowledge, risks and success with each other, some ambitions can be achieved more quickly and efficiently than when you operate alone. I realise that many entrepreneurs will need time to get used to such cooperation. However, I think that many will recognise the value of it when they take a good look around.” Cooperation can make it possible to change developments that form a threat to the position of the company into opportunities. Malinowski lists geo-political issues and energy costs as examples. “These are the things that you cannot influence as an individual entrepreneur, but you do have to deal with them. You can often achieve better solutions when you work together.” The Partnership | 11

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