Reliability and a quality service
In an increasingly competitive market, the focus for Production & Logistics remains on the growing of good quality seed potatoes and providing a reliable service to our direct and indirect customer, the ware potato grower. It’s all about producing and transporting a living product, for which HZPC sets the highest quality standards, so that international growers can achieve the best results. Therefore another goal is to produce the right volume of seed potatoes under optimal agronomic conditions, and to transport them at exactly the right time to our export countries. The logistics operation involved has been set up extremely efficiently, with minimal transportation movements as possible, so that the germination power and quality of the seed potatoes are preserved. We also work hard to carry out this whole exercise with the lowest possible environmental impact.
For HZPC, the Netherlands is the production country with the largest export volume. 80 percent of the Dutch seed potato production is exported. 20 percent is destined for the local market. From our seed potato production country Finland, 20 percent of production is destined for export, mainly to Russia. The production countries France, Germany, Poland and the UK mainly cultivate seed potatoes for the local market and export only a small percentage of their seed potato production. The export of HZPC potatoes is mainly to Africa, Mediterranean European countries and Asia.
With a view to reduce the number of field generations in order to improve the quality and vitality of seed potatoes, we expanded our Dutch minituber production capacity to 4.6 million minitubers last year. This number has grown annually by 10 percent and is now expected to level off. In India, we have over the past year begun constructing a facility for the production of minitubers.
To guarantee healthy and sustainably produced seed potatoes, HZPC controls the quality throughout the production chain, from disease control and growing instruction right down to the smallest link in the logistics operation.
Disease control The 2014 growing season was characterised by dry conditions at the end of the season. Autumn in Western Europe was hot, making it harder to dry and store the harvest. As a result, and particularly in the Netherlands, there were more cases of silver scurf. If seed potatoes are affected by silver scurf it can have consequences for the ware crop. As well as implementing the tighter standards for silver scurf introduced last year, HZPC also focuses on quality control of the crop itself. To this end, we provide guidance to seed potato growers on how they can achieve optimal results.In addition, management of Erwinia continues to command our attention. Thanks to the introduction of a PCR test on basic seed potatoes, using fewer field generations, and a number of adjustments to the growing process, the number of cases of declassifications of seed potatoes due to Erwinia has fallen sharply in recent years.
Logistics For our logistics operations, precise alignment with customers and transportation companies is an ongoing challenge. In recent years we have increasingly used refrigerated containers for sea transport, which better allows us to ensure the quality of the product. For container transport within the Netherlands to the port we increasingly use barges, which ensures optimum conditions for the seed potatoes. For seed potatoes that we produce and transport for the Traditional markets it also delivers significant reductions in CO2 emissions.
Knowledge exchange: Spain
For the Dutch representatives of the HZPC seed potato growers (College van Telers) we organised a trip to Spain in 2015. HZPC has a market share of 50 percent in this country. During the trip we visited the potato regions of northwest Spain and were informed about the local situation, especially with regards to the Retail Fresh Market.
Potatoes for the Retail Fresh market in Spain need to be coarse and look attractive. The most popular varieties are Monalisa, Spunta, Fabula, Colomba and Frisia. In Spain, growers assess the seed potatoes they receive similar to how their own end product is judged; in other words, focusing on the quality of their appearance. Spanish clients have particularly high demands when it comes to silver scurf and scab.
Supermarkets in Spain are under pressure: the consumption of fresh potatoes has dropped, which also affects the demands on potato merchants who arrange the purchase of seed potatoes for the growers. HZPC is therefore part-financing a potato promotional campaign by Spanish potato merchants, which has earned us much gratitude within the sector.
In 2014, a total of some 16,500 hectares of seed potatoes was grown under contract for HZPC. The increase of the total acreage of 3 percent occurred in the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, France and Germany. HZPC aims to organise local seed production in sales countries if there is infrastructure for seed production available.
Jan Tjaarda – head of logistics
“The Retail Fresh sector has its own dynamics. It is a dynamic market that requires a high degree of flexibility on the part of the logistics operations. The packer has a pivotal role in the value chain. Our sales of seed potatoes in this sector are mainly via packers, who often decide which potatoes will be sold by the supermarkets. In practice, the supply of seed potatoes to packers is an operation with many on-demand partial shipments that are delivered ‘just in time’.”