When it comes to breeding, growing and marketing vegetables and plants, the Netherlands has a global reputation. The horticulture supply chain is closely interconnected, with all players cooperating intensively. Together we constantly find answers to new market demands, delivering a stunningly wide range of innovative products year-round.
"The Dutch plant breeding industry is a sector with a long history. Some of the current companies were founded more than a century ago. Development and production of plant reproduction material is a major, highly developed economic activity in the Netherlands.
The plant improvement sector provides jobs for 10 000 workers, including a relatively large number of higher-educated workers, and is supported by a good academic infrastructure in the field of plant breeding and genetics.
R&D is aimed mainly at deciphering the genetic structure of plants, the development of varieties with new traits such as resistances to pests and diseases, and the development of fast asexual propagation methods and quality improvement of the plant reproduction material. More recently, quality traits including taste have received increasing attention.
The Netherlands is the world's largest seed exporter, with 24% of the total world export value, surpassing the USA (19%) and France (15%). Eight out of ten of the world's largest vegetable seed companies have their main offices and/or important branches in the Netherlands.
More than half of Dutch seed exports go to other EU countries, especially Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. The USA and Japan are the most important customers outside the EU. The export value of Dutch plant reproduction material is about 1.6 billion euros per year. Recent growth has mainly stemmed from vegetable seeds and plants and rooted cuttings.
Commercial agriculture in the Netherlands is almost totally based on the use of modern varieties supplied by commercial plant breeding and seed production. In addition, home gardens rely mainly on these commercial varieties".1
(1) Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, (2008), Second National Report on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, The Hague (p18).