Matthijs van Bonzel: “Farmers have to keep competitiveness where is possible and cooperation where is necessary”

New Holland abril

The Ambassador of the Netherlands in Spain, Johannes Hendrik Mattheus (Matthijs) von Bonzel, speaks mainly on the union of interests between Spain and his country, with regard to horticultural and logistics angels, in the following interview. Being the Government of Amsterdam which presides the first half the European Union (EU), it is advisable to know his lips the achievements of the successful Dutch organizational model in this sector, the large capacity of re-export, in particular, the nexus of trade union and distribution to Latin America.
eComercio Agrario: What are the keys to explain the success of the horticultural model of the Netherlands?

Matthijs van Bonzel: It is an important sector and growing, because it has a very high added value. In Holland, we try to combine the continuous investment in production technology, where the university involved, private companies and the government, and logistics. Join good land and crops with the largest port in Europe and a modern side allows the sector to benefit from the best conditions for distributing airport. But also it facilitates the import of products from other countries such as Spain and from Holland, re-export to all world markets.
Another key factor is the cooperative. Producers invest together in logistics and new production technologies, because they are expensive.

ECA: Speak Dutch producer of the cooperative sector. How it is organized to better compete in the markets?

MvB: With new technologies and the new orientation to the world as a market, we must organize. You have to compete, but also reinforce what the industry has in common as a producer to reduce costs and increase scientific and commercial knowledge. In the Netherlands, traditionally, we have found ways to optimize such cooperation. German horticultural producers are very professional and are following our model.


Obviously, we are a very concentrated, with a high-performance production and producers know much country and the state is important to encourage this: meet and unite mutual interests is the way. You keep competitiveness where it can, but also cooperation where necessary. Without losing the idea that we are competitors in the market, determine what and where we cooperate compete. The Dutch agricultural bank is a cooperative of farmers and the largest dairy company, FrieslandCampina, is another cooperative. And as a cooperative they may as a multinational investing in other countries.

In Spain, we find the same idea. Almería is already showing growth of cooperation and it shows. This region is very competitive in the market for fruits and vegetables. This model can also be applied in Latin America.

The King of Spain, Felipe VI, and the Ambassador of Holland, Matthijs van Bonzel

The King of Spain, Felipe VI, and the Ambassador of Holland, Matthijs van Bonzel

ECA: How can Spain and Holland complement in production and marketing?

MvB: Traditionally we are perfectly complementary. Together we have a great reputation in the market. In the largest consumer market in Europe, Germany, the two countries have a reputation for producing fruits and vegetables continuously, with high quality and environmentally attractive. Spain produces a lot and increasingly exports to the Netherlands for re-export. Through Holland you can reach any market worldwide with any product. Spain and the Netherlands, together, need to defend the logistical infrastructure network in Europe to export faster and more volume.

ECA: Netherlands origin and destination of the horticultural trade, what kind of relations has your country with Latin America?

MvB: Let me give an example. I was Ambassador of Netherlands in Costa Rica, a country that is unmarked as a leading producer of pineapple. It’s great to have developed the production with new technologies, but needs to find markets and thus linked to the Dutch logistics. Most of these pineapples come from Rotterdam to the world’s largest market is Europe.

Spain traditionally has good relations with Latin America and I combine this knowledge with the European market, as we have seen in the last Fruit Attraction. They may compete with us, but it can be supplemented. Spain has potential in the cultivation of exotic fruits such as mango and avocado (avocado). Spanish farmers grow them in off-season in respect to Latin America. Perhaps you could think of Holland as a logistics hub for the world market for these fruits. Private companies are continually looking to complement the supply and demand of all sides.

ECA: Spain also has an outstanding benchmark fair for this sector. Last year Holland was present again in Madrid, at the fair Fruit Attraction. What conclusions can you take out from the participation of Dutch companies there?

MvB: The conclusions are very positive, because increasingly Spain is international core business. We know it is a major producer of fruits and vegetables country. Therefore, this event is a magnet for companies in the rest of Europe and Latin America. We had to be there.