Jan Prins, director and owner of trading company Zijtwende International, said: "Given the critical nature of European markets, growers must maximise their use of biological crop protection. At the same time, however, many consumers have little knowledge of what this protection entails."
He added: "Dutch growers are miles ahead in terms of biological crop protection. The overwhelming majority of fruiting vegetable crops benefit from it, and it is a factor in our growers’ success. We have lots of capabilities, but hardly publicise these. Things really need to change."
The company serves retail chains in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and also the UK, with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and aubergines accounting for more than 80% of turnover.
Supermarkets are imposing increasingly stringent requirements on residue beyond regulations set by their national governments, and also want to know more about how produce is grown, Prins added.
"This has been the case for biological crop protection for a long time. However, supermarkets are now looking at social aspects. They're asking questions like: is the grower also a good employer? What energy sources do they use? Is the grower attempting to use more renewables? We are more than happy to give our customers a tour of the various farms, so that they can get a good overall impression of the business and ask questions."
By doing this he is glad to put right some retailers' misconceptions about salad vegetable growing, he said. "If a purchaser of all people doesn't know anything about the activities in our greenhouses and about our production methods, how can we expect consumers to know?"