From plant to customer.
The world was a very different place back in 1963 when NEDATO (Dutch potato growers organisation) was founded. The scale of agriculture was just taking its first big steps forward thanks to the introduction of mechanisation.
Cooked potatoes were a staple for the Dutch family, six days a week for either lunch or dinner. The Bintje was the only, and by default the most popular, variety. Potato products such as crisps were brand new and people in the Netherlands rarely “go out for dinner”: snack bars, supermarkets and fast food chains were not yet an established part of the culture.
What does the world look like now? The chip industry has increased dramatically and there is a large variety of potatoes on supermarket shelves separated according to cooking type and purpose. Floury, firm or the salad variety. Mediterranean style or specially cultivated for roasting. These can be found around the globe.
Sustainable, customer-oriented and innovative
Against the changing backdrop of the past fifty years, Nedato has transformed itself into a sustainable, customer-orientated, innovative and cooperative potato organisation on a global scale. As one of the largest sales and packaging organisations in Europe, with more than 500 affiliated growers and a production of over 400,000 tonnes, Nedato is a truly serious market player. For retail and food service, for the processing industry, for export…
The organisation was able to attain this growth by adhering to a few important principles. A strong connection to both the product and the grower are clearly the most important elements: a constant focus on quality along the entire supply chain, the capacity for innovation in cultivation and processes, a progressive and professional approach and an honest, transparent strategy are and will remain the driving factors of success.
Cooperative cold stores
Nedato’s predecessors were cooperative cold stores; growers stored their potatoes in communally managed cold stores. Potato growers in the Voorne-Putten and Hoeksche Waard regions joined forces through these cooperative cold stores and focused on the sale of potatoes to the surrounding urban areas. The union of the cooperatives in Voorne-Putten and Hoeksche Waard led to the formation of Nedato in 1963. A short time later, the Goeree Overflakkee and Dordrecht/IJsselmonde cooperatives also joined Nedato. But the principle remained the same: fresh, top-quality consumption potatoes: the region’s clay soil clearly offered the ideal foundation.
Development within the industry
In the following years, as the chip industry started developing and the processing industry gradually began to grow, the cooperative stepped up and adapted to the new market demands. The chip industry required specific potato varieties and sizes and called for other stipulations regarding the basic product and its storage. Furthermore, there was a growing need for segmentation and the development of new varieties for different tastes and with improved abilities for processing and storage. In addition, new varieties had to become increasingly resistant to disease. All of these requirements were mapped out by Nedato and translated to the field and grower.
A union of forces did not only take place in South Holland. The soil in Zeeland and North Brabant is particularly well-suited to growing potatoes. Growers there joined together in various cooperatives in order to increase their scale, share their knowledge and spread the risk. When the cooperatives from Zeeland, Brabant and South Holland joined forces in 1995, Nedato boasted more than 800 growers. With the acquisition of an export company in 1998 and the additional acquisitions of two national packing companies, Nedato became what it is today: one of the biggest cooperative potato organisations in Europe.
Rooted in clay
The connection between the grower and his potato has been the basis of Nedato’s existence for more than 50 years. Our collective roots lie, quite literally, in the best clay and soil. These roots translate into top-quality potatoes. But we also find root in an honest, natural relationship with the grower: on a cooperative basis. The grower is paid according to the quality of his product. And he wouldn’t want it any other way. Because our deliveries are determined by market demands, our growers can produce with a purpose and conduct acreage planning, with guaranteed sales. But this is only one facet of our relationship. It is based on much more than just economics.
Our doors are always open
From our very first meeting, we have always pushed each other to greater heights. We have exchanged information, challenged one another and kept each other on our toes. We always feel welcome to drop by without calling and gladly slip off our boots as we walk in. And we eagerly put those same boots back on again when we go out together on the fields to inspect the crop and compare it to that of other growers. Knowledge that we use to ensure that the returns are as high as possible and that we continue to deliver top-quality potatoes. We organize workshops and cultivation days, prepare test fields, develop close relationships with research departments of reputable universities and use our own modern, top-quality laboratory.
Respect for nature
Because our roots are firmly planted in nature, we respect it more than any other can. Nedato’s sustainability is demonstrated in our countless certificates, our use of solar energy, 100% waste separation and green energy, our membership in the Skylark Foundation, the lower structural use of pesticides by our growers than the national average as well as the fact that we are the only potato company to have reached the 3rd Level on the CSR Performance Ladder. But at Nedato we understand that sustainable operations consist of more than just a tally of certificates and lists. We don’t portray ourselves as a sustainable company because our clients expect it of us, or because we feel obliged to comply with future guidelines, but rather because we feel genuinely passionate about a green, environmentally friendly world. An environment in which our people and future generations are happy to become rooted in.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Nedato has been community based since its creation. The basic principles of our cooperative testify to that. But our social responsibility goes even further. Corporate Social Responsibility has a prominent place within our organisation. Much attention is paid to Nedato’s employees in terms of training and development: we do everything in our power to ensure that our employees can happily continue with their work. We keep an eye on our environment, neighbours and fellow companies and are involved in a number of regional projects and services. We assist young people in training with internships and research. We structurally supply a number of food banks in order to help those in most in need in our society.
In 50 years we will be doing the same
As the world continues to shrink with digitalization, as more stringent requirements are placed on tracking and traceability, on food safety and sustainability and as more flexibility is required to meet the fast changing demands of the consumer and industry, Nedato remains true to its principles. And will still be doing the same in 50 years. With persistent innovation, a respect for nature and continuous translation of market demands to the grower. Time and time again.