TRADE AND MARKET I NG To ensure the continued survival of our cooperative, it’s important to have our own varieties’ mainly S categories, De Geus adds. I must say that the high-quality seed potato crops of these profitable resistant starch varieties are not only important for the Netherlands, but they are especially important for production under licence abroad. ‘They go like a bomb’, according to Buwalda. Countries that buy many tons of high-quality basic material include Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic states, he sums up. ‘They need them in order to tackle the increasing problems with soilborne diseases. We sell 1,300 to 1,400 tons of potatoes to Denmark alone every year. Growers there have a scheme that can be compared with the Dutch TBM (Foundation for Crop Protection Measures) scheme. They’re allowed to grow starch seed one further year and only then is it used to grow starch potatoes for the factory. They have to pay a it was ZAP’s express wish to be able to take over the staff as well. De Geus adds: ‘For us the takeover of the Semagri staff is very welcome. With them, we can create more space in the workplace. In our company and also in Semagri, there were the usual double functions ranging from administration and logistics to purchasing and sales, due to the small size of the organisations. We’ll now be able to split up these jobs into separate posts that fit the skills of the staff. And, although he’ll be slowing down, Lammert is also going to work for us. He’ll be working as an active goalie in the coming years.’ He’ll be supervising the transfer of Semagri and providing the necessary support for the introduction of new varieties. ‘ZAP lacks experience in that field and I’ve done nothing else. At the same time, I’ll also be working together with a junior who I can train in the job. We’re still ‘Breeders are particularly happy that Semagri hasn‘t been taken over by a large seed potato trader who carries out its own breeding.’ licence fee for that second crop of their purchased seed. Our seed for consumption potato varieties, the Anaïs, for example, is sold to countries in Europe and the Middle East. Michelle is much in demand and is multiplied in Scandinavia and England, and the new promising Abelia, Dunastar and Nubila varieties also cross the border and are sold in countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.’ How have your staff received the news? ‘One week before the invitation letters for the ZAP members’ meeting were posted, with the takeover already on the agenda, I informed my people about the intended decision. They were positive about the news. They weren’t completely surprised, because we’d already often talked about the future of the company after I left. And regarding the choice for ZAP, they said that it was a partner they could believe in. I’d like to add here that looking for a suitable candidate’, Buwalda says with an inviting gesture. What position do you think you’ll take in the market in ten years’ time? ‘We don’t have a clear picture of that right now. For the moment, we’ll take two to five years to integrate Semagri into our organisation’, explains De Geus. ‘As long as necessary, the two names will continue to exist side by side and, at the appropriate time, we’ll continue as ZAP. Our primary focus is to be able to offer our growers a fine range of varieties, from Royal-ZAP as well as from Semagri growers. We also want to continue to work together with trading companies that we’ve had a long-term business relationship with such as Pepsico, Agrico, IPM and TPC. For Pepsico, for example, we’ve been exclusively growing S categories for their affiliated crisp potato growers. It doesn’t harm these companies that Semagri has found a connection Thanks to the merger of our businesses, we can now do a much better job of selling the various varieties where they grow best. with us with mostly starch varieties. They’ve told us that they don’t have any problem continuing our business relationship. We also worked together with HZPC, but that ended in 2014. That was quite a loss for us, but was quickly compensated by our new cooperation with STET. With the new acquisition, RoyalZAP currently has the multiplication of at least a hundred varieties under its umbrella, which gives us enough scope for the coming years, I should say. We also have varieties for all the market segments: export, French fries, crisps, starch, flakes and table potatoes. With 0.4 hectares, Meerlander is still the smallest variety, and Spunta the biggest with 220 hectares.’ ‘I’d like to add that we have plenty of opportunities for all our growers, whether their soil is good or not so good, whether they grow for Royal-ZAP or Semagri. Even the poorest seed potato soils in the Netherlands are still many times better than those in many other countries in the world. Thanks to the merger of our businesses, we can now do a much better job of selling the various varieties where they grow best. It will improve the quality of the supplied seed even more in all areas’, Buwalda foresees with confidence. ● Leo Hanse Potato World 2017 • number 3 7 Pagina 6

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