Growth. That is what drives us at HZPC. Growth, from seed to plant. From insight to vision. From introductions to partnerships. From being good to being excellent. From ‘for a few’ to ‘for everyone’. Each and every day.

What we consider to be normal, i.e. top quality food for all of the world’s citizens, could in fact be rather special. Very few sectors and companies are able to generate the positive impact created by our seed potato sector. We produce initial material for healthy and affordable food for a growing number of global citizens. Good genetics and the right growing expertise ensure high rates of products per m2 of soil. Thanks to acceleration and high-tech solutions within breeding, we are increasingly able to take on the climatic, ecological and demographic challenges that will face us in the future. And all this for a gradually reducing impact.

The challenges remain significant. Lower residues, for example, require the development of disease resistant varieties. Over the past two years, we have introduced a number of varieties with a greater range of resistance. In 2030, three-quarters of the varieties we introduce will have to be resistant to the two most significant potato diseases. Legislation that comes into effect immediately, however, has restricted crop protection agents even though there are currently insufficient resistant varieties. This poses a threat to crops. And all this while the alternative, permitted products may, in fact, cause greater environmental damage. It is therefore important to work with fellow businesses, growers, breeders and policymakers to develop a sustainable vision which balances people, planet and profit.

We can see the world around us changing. Sustainable developments in transport offer us the opportunity to provide low-emission, or even no emission, distribution methods in the long term. Our local-for-local production in Europe is already lowering food miles. A smart logistical process must reduce the impact of our distribution service even further. We are also seeing an increasing number of growers that are transferring to energy-neutral storage because the business case makes sense. We see it as our role in the chain to initiate developments, bring parties together and provide stimulation so we can tackle issues collectively and speed up the pace of progress.

I would like to accelerate our efforts too. Five working groups are concentrating on developing policies and action around several themes; ensuring these activities gain particular attention over the coming months and years so we can make even more of a difference. As far as I’m concerned, our new ‘keeps you growing’ positioning sets out a clear route into the future. With this, everyone is aware of his/her impact on the environment and knows what to focus on. And we must never lose sight of the reasons for developing potato varieties and the people who will benefit. It’s all about making a difference with genetics by putting the huge growth potential of our people, technology and potato varieties to good use. Each and every day.

Gerard Backx