From March 15 to 18, 2022, the Agricultural Office of the Dutch Embassy in France organized a trade mission to Western France at the request of Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, in cooperation with PSPS Business Abroad. The Netherlands is already well represented in this mature market with suppliers in the construction of greenhouses, the production of vegetables, fruit and ornamental plants. But there is room for more intensive cooperation between France and the Netherlands in this area, according to Greenports Netherlands and the French innovation cluster for horticulture Vegepolys Valley.
On the day of its arrival in the city of Angers, the delegation of twelve Dutch companies and experts was officially welcomed by representatives of the Pays de la Loire region and the Vegepolys Valley innovation cluster, as well as other international delegations. .
The opportunity to establish contacts with representatives of companies from different continents and with representatives of French local authorities.
Vegepolys Valley is a French innovation center for horticulture and as such an important partner of the SIVAL show which takes place every year in Angers. The French cluster signed a memorandum of understanding with Greenport West-Holland in 2019 to strengthen bilateral cooperation in order to accelerate innovation in horticulture and generate joint projects in a national or European context.
Participation and matchmaking at the SIVAL show
According to exhibitors, the international horticultural fair SIVAL was less frequented than in previous years because the fair was moved from January to March due to corona. This is a particularly busy month for many producers in the fields and in the greenhouses. But this could not affect the quality of the fair and it is said that good contacts were made and business went on as in previous years. The stands were a little quieter, which made it easier to have conversations on the lounge.
It was also possible to make appointments for individual meetings with companies in the International Corner of the fair, thanks to the B2Match appointment system of the Vegepolys Valley International Business Event (VIBE).
Company and site visits illustrate market opportunities in France
On the third day of the business trip, three company visits were made. The group was warmly welcomed into the cultural cooperative Jardins de Loire. Then they visited the very modern greenhouses of Bioplants, where a more intensive form of organic and sustainable herb production takes place. Then the journey continued a little further in the region, to the producer of traditional ornamental plants Jarry.
On the fourth and last day, Vegepolys Valley gave a tour of the Campus du Végétal. This plant campus brings together on the same site in Angers many public and private players in the horticultural (vegetable, fruit and ornamental) and seed sectors. The research institutions INRAE, the Agro Institute and Vegepolys Valley are the main partners in this project.
The distances are great in a country like France and the duration of the trade mission was unfortunately limited. These visits to companies and sites were obviously not enough to give an overall picture of the sector, but they did give an interesting overview of the cuisine of French greenhouse crops.
Where are the challenges? Are there market opportunities? How and with whom can Dutch entrepreneurs collaborate? It might taste better…
To look forward
How to maintain and capitalize on this dynamic? It goes without saying that newly acquired contacts and encounters with existing relationships should be followed up and kept “hot”. Investing in relationships is a necessity in France to be able to do business, as was made clear in various discussions. Making contact is one thing, but building a business relationship requires a sustained investment of time and energy.
The will on the French side is there. This is apparent from the various receptions of this Dutch delegation in the Pays de la Loire region.
In addition, the French competitiveness cluster Vegepolys Valley wishes to return to the Netherlands soon with a French delegation. A great opportunity to further strengthen ties. In addition to the Greenports, individual companies can of course also play a role and in turn open their sites to welcome French entrepreneurs and experts.
For more information:
Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality