Bejo: Exploring nature never stops
Being a global player in the world of seeds and vegetable production, what are important global trends you currently notice?
We serve more than 100 markets with our vegetable varieties and seeds, and all of these markets have their own specific characteristics when it comes down to cultivation practices, climate circumstances, consumption habits, and marketing specific: the way they communicate or find their info and the communication channels they use.
However, in general, globally, we notice a preference by growers to cultivate varieties that produce a reliable yield with less risk, rather than opt for high yield only. These are robust varieties that hold stronger when cultivation circumstances are tough, and they often have specific disease resistances. More specifically, we also see many growers with a personal drive to run their business more sustainably. They try out new practices into their cultivation methods, they look for new ways of organizing their distribution channels, they invest in innovative machinery etc. I admire their spirit and hard work.
On the consumer side we notice increased awareness for more healthy food, for their own health and/or to contribute to a lower carbon footprint.
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Bejo is an international Dutch based family company specialized in breeding, production and sales of vegetable seeds. It offers a broad assortment of over 1,000 vegetable varieties for mainly open field crops, and for both conventional and organic cultivation.
This interview is coinciding with the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow. With that major event going on, what role do you see for the horticultural sector or what message does the sector have or should have in the current climate debate?
On policy making: the way to move forward is not to go back to how we did things 200 or 1000 years ago. We have learned so much which has contributed to a better living. Make decisions fact based, and not based on a sense of feeling. Our in-depth scientific knowledge is increasing every day, and insights should be taken seriously. Cherish our farmers and our scientists, and motivate innovation in sustainable farming.
And as for consumption: continue promoting healthy nutrition. In my opinion, there is much to gain here if it comes to overall lower medical expenses, lower carbon footprint, higher personal happiness.
Although your core business is not in greenhouse vegetables, Bejo is a dedicated member of Eat This. Why is that and what do you hope to achieve by being a member of this international platform?
Well, the ambition of Eat This inspires us: ‘to promote a more resilient, healthy and durable future for all’. It matches with our own vision at Bejo, and we believe Eat This is more complete with the addition of our expertise in outdoor grown vegetables. After all, outdoor cultivation offers us a wide range of delicious, healthy and sustainably grown vegetables, and globally it counts for the major part of our daily vegetable consumption.
Also, we realize that in horticultural businesses a lot of innovation takes place that hardly anybody knows about. The businesses in our sector are not organized to tell these stories. They have their hands full on managing their core business. But the stories are encouraging for the future, and good to be known. The Eat This group will help bringing these stories and in the meanwhile members will inspire each other to become even better contributors to a sustainable future.
Eat This wants to connect the production of fresh food better and closer to society as a whole. This message was only strengthened by the Covid-19 pandemic. What should everybody know about Bejo and seeds and what message do you have for the final consumers of your products?
Well, as for this last question, our message is definitely: ´Eat your veggies!´ Covid-19 has taught us plainly that people with overweight are hit harder by the virus, and 39% of adults globally is overweight. Our minds have not evolved as quickly as our world has: we look for the comfort and security of food, but these days we have plenty offering and should choose selectively and go for the healthy options
We need our daily veggies, as they are low in calories, and high in fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants. They keep our bodies slim and nourish our organs. And, vegetables have a relatively low carbon footprint.
As for Bejo: Everybody may know that Bejo employees do their utmost to develop vegetable varieties that will help growers to continue producing these healthy vegetables in future.
This interview is part of our Inside Out series of in-depth interviews with our contributors. Follow us on Instagram or Twitter for updates!