Background
Report of the Executive Board

Strategy and
Structure

Mission, vision and values


The potato is a wonderful product that makes it possible to produce, in a short period of time and with relatively little water, a high quality food that is rich in vitamins and carbohydrates. However, worldwide production is constrained by a lack of knowledge; by a shortage of suitable land, water and fertilisers; and by the susceptibility of certain potato varieties to diseases. HZPC, along with its team of growers and breeders, is committed to contributing to the production and development of responsible food for today’s and tomorrow’s global population.

Diagram: Growing World population 2015-2050 (source: Population Reference Bureau, 2015)

A mission that we put into practice through our ambitions in terms of potato breeding, seed potato growing and export. Collaboration and ongoing dialogue with our breeders, growers, trading partners and customers are essential to continue fulfilling our vision and to remain internationally leading.

Most populous countries, 2015 en 2050
(source: Population Reference Bureau, 2015)

Our varieties are grown in every part of the world and we supply seed potatoes to more than 80 countries. We strive to be a reliable partner to work with. We believe that growth and development together with our supply chain partners will help us differentiate and create added value in the chain.

Pie chart: Population per continent 2015-2050 
(source: Population Reference Bureau, 2015)

Strategy and objectives

Our vision, mission and goals also translate into our corporate objectives with respect to target returns for our certificate holders and competitive prices for our seed potato growers in various countries. We are proud that we have again been able to achiev these objectives.

Research and breeding form the cornerstone of our aim to improve potato production worldwide. In recent years, the number of employees in research has increased. We have in particular recruited people with supplementary knowledge and skills. The benefits of this policy are already visible. The new varieties that we will soon be bringing to market are an important addition to our existing variety portfolio.

Much attention is given to new research projects. HZPC wants to be at the forefront when it comes to implementing new techniques in potato breeding. This requires a lot of research. The newer breeding techniques that are already being used in other crops can be applied to potato breeding. This will further advance potato genetics, a subject that HZPC devotes a lot of time and energy to. By doing so, HZPC also aims to prevent other breeding companies, not yet active in potatoes, from catching up and overtaking current potato companies in implementing the possibilities of improved genetics. HZPC has set out its strategy for potential hybridisation of potatoes and the impact this will have on the market over the coming decades.

For the long term, HZPC maintains its growth strategy and aims on the one hand to achieve further penetration in the markets where it is already active, and on the other to develop relatively new markets for HZPC varieties. The potato is a crop that continues to increase in global acreage. This creates many opportunities for a company like HZPC, although not all markets are easily accessible. HZPC is confident about the possibilities to further develop a number of newer markets with new varieties, new techniques, and our knowledge and experience.

Organisational structure and development

HZPC has made an important decision regarding the senior management structure of its organisation. We are going to split the organisation of our business activities into, on the one hand, existing operations in existing markets where HZPC wants to maintain or increase its market share; and on the other, new projects that will contribute a number of years from now to HZPC’s margins and profits, but into which for the time being a lot of time and energy must be invested. There will still be three executive board members, but there will also be an executive committee made up of the current ‘board of three’ plus a yet-to-be-appointed Director for the ‘Strategic Business Area Europe’ and the research director. This will enable the board together with a number of business development managers to be appointed, to give more attention to new projects. This structure will be implemented in the beginning of 2015/16. The changes are completely consistent with HZPC’s growth strategy. The legal structure will also be adapted to the new management structure in the course of financial year 2015/16.

HZPC has decided to recruit several new employees for the expansion of its activities. While a few years ago the expansion primarily took place in sales, logistics, research and product support, recently we have been focusing more on expanding support functions. We are now an international team of over 300 colleagues, with the number of FTEs (full-time employees) increasing in 2014/15 from 261 to 270.

Outlook

For 2015/16, HZPC expects the demand for seed potatoes in Europe to be higher than in 2014/15, because the prices for ware potatoes are currently much higher than a year ago. As a result, the acreage of potatoes in Southern Europe is likely to increase once more and the amount of uncertified seeds planted in Europe are expected to fall slightly in favour of certified seed potatoes.

However the acreage of seed potatoes in Europe has also grown. This means supply will be slightly higher, which could influence the market for free varieties in particular. Normally HZPC would expect to be able to increase its turnover and margins again in 2015/16, with potato breeders again receiving a competitive price.

Plant breeders in Europe have long awaited a judgment from the Supreme Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office. In March, the Supreme Board made a ruling stating that existing biological properties can be patented. HZPC is of the opinion that patent rights on these properties undermine the rightful freedom for breeders, thus blocking innovation in plant breeding. Not everyone agrees with this view. The conflicting breeders rights with patent rights certainly merit further close consideration by both Dutch and international politicians.

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