There are ways to ensure farmers get paid better without consumers having to pay more. That is what Mark de Jong of the Dutch farmers’ Southern Agriculture and Horticulture organisation, ZLTO, said. He responded to statements by Minister Carola Schouten, who thinks food prices are too low.
The ZLTO has been saying for years that farmers are expected to deliver too much for too little return. “I am very happy that the minister is now also paying attention to this problem,” says De Jong.
The ZLTO has also thought of solutions. “By eating fresh produce from your area, you can save on transport, storage, and sorting costs,” he explains. “The locally-made cheese costs just as much as that from the supermarket and the farmer can get a better price for it.” There are already various initiatives like this in Brabant. According to the ZLTO, the Philips Fruittuin is one of the most notable and innovative of these.
Owner of this orchard, Carlos Faes, is a perfect example of the minister’s ideal entrepreneur profile. “I started here 25 years ago working for half of my profit. I was tired of selling below cost to a supermarket group and thus to anonymous consumers.”
Philips Fruittuin has its own shop with regional products, educates consumers, has a catering section, holds events, and has an apple and pear orchard. An online platform will be added at the end of the summer. Carlos himself does not want to say too much about that yet. “It is still a secret and not completely finished.”
Mark de Jong wants to suggest something else: “Imagine if you could place your order at a supermarket and depending on your place of residence, you can also add local products to your shopping trolley. For many consumers, cycling to the farm store is too much of a challenge”.
This would be interesting for everyone. The supermarkets could offer a greater variety of products. The farmer would receive a good price for his regional products. Consumers could have more choice and could buy local products without wasting time.
There will always be large companies that can deliver more competitively. “Those companies have to meet increasingly stricter conditions. That will not do for every farmer”, de Jong expects.
Source: Omroep Brabant
Translator: Nicole Cullinan
Editor: Melinda Walraven