PILLAR 1 Environmental Stewardship

Reducing negative impact distribution of seed potatoes


Optimisation of transport of seed potatoes

HZPC partially takes care of the transport of seed potatoes. The task of distributing seed potatoes is based in the Netherlands. They are exported around the world from various distribution centres. For this reason, more transport movements take place in the Netherlands compared to other countries.

Transport is the largest component in the CO2-footprint of HZPC. The challenge is to arrange the logistics as efficiently as possible in order to limit the number of transport movements. We are making more frequent use of the inland waterways. Transport by truck has more of an impact on the environment and is costly. More than 1,000 containers (carrying 27.5 tonnes of potatoes per container) were transported to the ports of Velsen and Rotterdam in the 2016/17 period via Dutch waters. With respect to transport by truck, this saves 24% on CO2 emissions.

Future hybridisation of potatoes will have a positive effect on CO2 emissions from transport. Transport will focus more and more on the transport of seeds instead of tubers. Transporting seeds is more efficient, cheaper and less harmful to the environment. 

We are currently preparing a baseline measurement with regard to the CO2 footprint of our transport. It is difficult for us to determine the right scope, especially because transport by third parties, particularly in the export countries, is difficult to measure. We want to be able to include a transport CO2 footprint in the next sustainability report. A ‘Transport optimisation’ working group will be put together in 2018. The purpose of this working group is to formulate goals and to make and implement a plan of action to reduce the impact of transport on the environment.

Selecting transport companies with a sustainability program

We expect our transporters to have a clearly formulated sustainability policy. We started our first talks on sustainability with our preferred partners back in 2013. These partners subsequently received an inventory referring to sustainability. The results have yet to be evaluated. This will become part of the activities of the working group. Guidelines will subsequently be drawn up with regard to the sustainability standards for our preferred partners and other transporters.

Local for local cultivation in Europe

How do we limit the transport kilometres for propagating material and potatoes? This question is high on our agenda. We aim to produce as much as possible locally to meet demand for seed potatoes in countries where HZPC has seed potato production. In 2016/2017 HZPC produced more than 17,370 ha of seed potatoes in Europe. Approximately 70% of this production took place in the Netherlands.

HZPC has seed potato production in Europe in seven countries. An average of 82% of seed potatoes sold for local production in these countries were locally produced in 2010. We want to increase this percentage. This is why we grow 'local for local' in the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and since 2015 in Russia. In other words, cultivate close to home, where the consumer's market is. We currently grow 83% through this local for local strategy, thereby limiting transport kilometres.

However, export to the surrounding countries will always continue to take place from the Netherlands. This is because there is demand in those countries for high quality seed potatoes from the Netherlands. These seed potatoes then will be multiplied in the relevant country, for several years. After this period it is released onto the local market for the production of ware potatoes. Export to other countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa mostly occurs from the Netherlands.

Share of seed potatoes produced locally, of the overall seed potatoes sold in European producing countries (including the Netherlands):

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
82% 85% 84% 85% 85% 81% 83%
This Local for Local calculation has been revised. The calculation of the figures from previous reports excluded the Netherlands. Because seed potatoes are also grown for the local market in the Netherlands, we have decided to include the Netherlands in the calculation.