His Excellency Simon Smits, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UK gave the opening address at the Cocktail Reception of the London Produce Show and Conference on June 8 at the Grosvenor House hotel. You can read his speech here
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s a great honour for me to address you on the occasion of The London Produce Show 2016.
This year the Netherlands is the preferred nation of the show, and this is a great privilege. Looking down on the show floor from here it looks absolutely splendid, what a wealth of tantalising products.
I must confess being tempted to sneak down and have a quick bite of those juicy fruits. Of course not from the pavilion of the Netherlands. They would never forgive me if I damaged their display.
The Netherlands are a major exporter (2nd) of fruit, vegetables, potatoes and seeds to the UK, both directly and indirectly through the logistical hub of Rotterdam. We treasure that and think it brings along its obligations too – not only to deliver good quality for a fair price but also to deliver a sustainable product, and to support a healthy lifestyle by encouraging the consumer to eat more fruit and veg.
All of you, as professionals know, that in the Netherlands over the last decades large steps have been taken towards sustainability. In glasshouse cultivation of fruit and veg, biological control has almost completely supplanted chemical control. The use of water and nutrients has been reduced dramatically by closed systems. Glasshouses can now be used as a source of energy, instead being something that consumes energy.
The social aspect of sustainability deserves attention too. In the Netherlands, as in the UK, the sector needs the labour force from legal immigrants from EU member states in eastern Europe. The same holds for other sectors, which, in my opinion deserves due consideration in the Brexit debate.
The Netherlands also supports exports from SMEs from developing countries through capacity building. If you want to know more about it have a look tomorrow at the CBI’s stand, which is promoting SMEs from Guatemala and Honduras.
It’s becoming more and more evident that eating plenty of fruit and veg is good for your health. And in the end, isn’t it what we all want; a healthy and long lasting life? Eating fruit and veg has thus started to become a trend. Here in London you will find lots of well-educated youngsters drinking Kale cocktails or on a paleolithic diet. The problem is that most of us eat far less fruit and veg than we should. One could even say that in our Western society, the more deprived people are, the less fruit and veg they eat.
How to tackle that problem? It’s obvious that the doctor telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat, presumably won’t have the desired effect. The Holland Fresh Group has been exploring new ways to seduce, or should I say help, the consumer to eat more fruit and veg. By developing new tasty products and recipes, new ways of offering fruit and veg outside regular meals. They are happy to share that knowledge with you in their seminar tomorrow morning at 10am.
But there is another initiative at the show I want to share with you: Fruit and Veg for Kids at School. It’s shown in a pavilion opposite the pavilion of the Netherlands. On Thursday at 2.00 PM, Oli Blanc, will announce the winner of a competition among kids from schools from deprived areas on the South Bank. They have learned how to grow their own fruit and veg at school. And they love to eat it! The winning school will get a glasshouse made available by the Holland Fresh Group, all the other schools will get free seeds for a year. By the way, some of the kids will visit the show tomorrow before the prize ceremony. And the initiative needs sponsors to grow!! What a great way to help consumers to eat more fruit and veg.
Thank you and have a great show.