Koppert Biological Systems

Putting our shoulders to the wheel together to capitalise on opportunities

Speaking: Peter Maes, Corporate Marketing Director at Koppert Biological Systems and member of the DGD Supervisory Board

Peter Maes

The demand for organic, top quality, responsible and locally produced food is increasing right across the world. Peter Maes, Corporate Marketing Director at Koppert Biological Systems, thinks greenhouse horticulture offers the perfect answer to this. And Dutch Greenhouse Delta (DGD) can help to capitalise on all those opportunities which are there for the taking, according to the member of the DGD Supervisory Board. “However, the partners simply must have a proactive attitude.”

Koppert Biological Systems certainly isn’t an unfamiliar name within the international greenhouse horticulture industry. Far from it: the company is world renowned for the organic solutions it develops, manufactures and sells. “Koppert has been active in agriculture and horticulture for decades, by offering solutions which stimulate plant health and plant resilience”, according to Peter Maes. “In concrete terms, this concerns the production of natural enemies which are used against pest insects, bumblebees for pollination and biostimulants and microbiological solutions which contribute to improved plant health. These solutions allow us to offer an alternative to regular, synthetic crop protection products and fertilisers. We are therefore truly contributing to a healthier world population and a healthier planet. Surely there isn’t a greater objective than that? The difference we can make in this field has made me incredibly proud of both Koppert and its employees.”
Even though the Netherlands is Koppert’s home base, the company now has 30 subsidiaries abroad and Koppert is active in more than 95 countries. Globally the company has more than 2200 employees. “Our focus is on Europe and North America, but we are now also starting to see enormous developments in South America, Africa and the Middle East. These continents are really starting to catch up.”

Global sustainability

Maes points out that the global development towards organic, responsible and top quality food is continuing to accelerate. “Sustainability is the magic word. Partly because more and more social parties are after a solution for, for example, the CO2 problem and climate change. This has translated into a growing need for organic, healthy, safe and top quality food. And this, in turn, sets other things in motion: alternative production methods, dealing with residual flows more efficiently, increased transparency in the chain and more local production. The SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) provide guidance in this field on a global scale. Within Europe the Farm to Fork strategy needs to give substance to a more sustainable food system.”
The Koppert Director feels horticulture offers the perfect solution for all these wishes and needs. “Especially because our sector is a major pioneer in these exact areas. And because of the simple fact that we grow our products ‘indoors’, we can produce in the same responsible, effective and controllable way literally anywhere in the world and under any conditions. In short: horticulture has everything required to effectively put the SGD’s and the Farm to Fork strategy into practice.”

Offering peace of mind together

The Netherlands can fulfil a central role in this, Maes indicates. “Our country boasts all the required disciplines, knowledge and competencies to implement large-scale horticulture projects right across the world. Allowing for countries like China, the Gulf States and the United States to meet their own food requirements and keep things under their own management. This therefore presents us with an enormous opportunity, even more so because the Netherlands has traditionally always been strongly focussed on export.”
However, Maes does see collaborations between the various different horticulture disciplines as an absolute must in order to capitalise on all the opportunities. “We will only be able to optimally fulfil the local needs in the various regions and countries and truly offer foreign parties total peace of mind if we effectively work together. That was certainly also the most important reason for Koppert to become a partner within DGD: you can offer a great deal more by working together and you can make a true difference from an international perspective too.”

Commitment

The Koppert Director strongly believes the partners within DGD will need to adopt a proactive attitude in order to seize opportunities as a collective. “After all, as a platform you’re only as strong as your weakest link. That’s why it’s important for the partnership to involve more than just paying membership fees. Partners truly have to commit to each other, come up with promising initiatives in the various different focus areas themselves. Involvement and a proactive attitude are an absolute must. To me that was instantly also the most important reason to become a member of DGD’s Supervisory Board; I want to be at the helm and do what I can to make a difference. We’re only going to be able to achieve what we want when everyone puts out their feelers internationally and introduces promising opportunities. In short: we really need to put our shoulders to the wheel together.”

Opportunities in the Gulf region

Maes states that the Gulf region currently offers a multitude of growth opportunities for Koppert. Even though most of the Gulf states have been importing their food for years, it’s their ambition to become increasingly more self-sufficient. “Gigantic greenhouse complexes are being built in this area, inspired by the need to become more sustainable. At the initiative of entrepreneurs, investors and government authorities; they are now increasingly seeing the importance of local fresh production. You really need all disciplines in horticulture to be able to turn these projects into a success. This is where the power of a platform like DGD truly comes into its own. There are plenty of opportunities for us as Koppert, as parties in the Gulf region want to produce food as safely as possible. And that’s where our organic solutions come into play.”

The Koppert Director feels ‘Water’ is the most important issue in the Gulf region where DGD’s core themes are concerned. “After all, it’s often far from simple in these areas to have access to the right quality water, as water is more expensive than oil in the Gulf States. Plus acquiring good and efficiently trained employees is a real challenge, just like energy. And with the last theme the focus isn’t on how to heat a greenhouse, but mainly on how to keep it cool.”

Maes would like to see the ‘Plant Health’ theme added to the list of DGD’s core themes. “As previously stated: today’s consumer wants a safe, sustainable, delicious and top quality product. A healthy plant, grown without the use of crop protection agents, is therefore an absolute must.”

“After all, as a platform you’re only as strong as your weakest link. That’s why it’s important for the partnership to involve more than just paying membership fees. Partners truly have to commit to each other, come up with promising initiatives in the various different focus areas themselves
Peter Maes
Peter Maes
Corporate Marketing Director