He celebrated his holidays in the Netherlands, yet, one of these days, Bas Duijvestijn will fly to New York. There, he will be heading the North American branch of Van der Hoeven Horticultural Projects. Indeed: from the big city, the Big Apple. "Increasingly, our customers are investors who want to get into horticulture, without having much experience or knowledge of this sector. We can offer a one-stop shop, even including ongoing support for cultivation and financing solutions. That's a unique proposition."
Entering the US
In recent years, Bas has been everywhere: from Europe and the Middle East to Canada, Russia and Africa. "Van der Hoeven is active worldwide, and I have been lucky to supervise a large part of our projects in recent years. In fact, I have seen our greenhouses all over the world - everywhere except for Australia," remarks Bas. "We are a big player there and have some impressive projects, but my colleagues over there take care of that." In the coming years, his travels will take on a different twist: he will mainly focus on the North American market, as well as on the Mexican market, in collaboration with their installation branch Patron Agri Systems.
"Especially in the U.S., we see that more and more companies are interested to move away from open-field production. Lettuce and strawberries nowadays are often grown in California and trucked for five days until they finally arrive on the East Coast. There is a need for more locally-grown produce and more optimal use of land, water, and energy. Greenhouses can be the answer. Thanks to higher and more efficient production per square foot, you need far fewer raw materials to produce a higher quality product, and the product on the shelves is fresher too. This story, the horticultural story, is getting more and more attention," says Bas.
The proposition that Van der Hoeven offers to the American market also has to do with the takeover by Arvesta, which happened two years ago. Since then, the greenhouse construction company is part of the same group as Hortiplan - the Belgium company known for its mobile gully systems for leafy crops and herbs. "Hortiplan's fully automated systems make it possible to grow lettuce, herbs, and other leafy crops anywhere in the world. With Hortiplan being our sister company, we can bring an interesting offering to the American market. There is a great demand for lettuce, spinach, and herbs production. Together with two world leaders in this market, we offer a unique combination."
And it's not just that: Bas is making another special proposal to the Americans. Van der Hoeven is setting up in New York because it is the financial center of the world. "Our customers are basically many investors with an interest in agriculture. We offer them a one-stop-shop for a horticultural project: from feasibility studies to design, construction, and active cultivation supervision." Bas says the moment an investor chooses to make Van der Hoeven responsible for the cultivation, the step to co-investing in those projects themselves becomes very small. "We have a lot of confidence in our knowledge and experience and we dare to express that in money. For customers, that is an extra guarantee of a successful project."
It is not the first time that Van der Hoeven has established itself in the US. Two decades ago, Van der Hoeven already had a physical presence there, but at some point decided to take up business more from the Netherlands and focus more actively on other continents. "Especially in countries like Australia, Japan and in regions like the Middle East, we have gained a lot of knowledge in growing in challenging climates. In the past, we saw that the US was less focused on using new techniques in cultivation. That is different now: now all kinds of random techniques are often used without a clear plan on what the goal is. That's why we want to share the knowledge and experience we gained over time right from the get-go of the project, and thus take horticulture in the US to new heights."