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Nouvelles - 01-07-2024

Rijk Zwaan celebrates 100 years of people, pioneering and ‘moving forward’

Rijk Zwaan, an international fruit and vegetable breeding company, is celebrating its first centenary. Since its foundation in 1924, Rijk Zwaan has grown into a global player active in more than 100 countries. The centenary celebrations kicked off on 1 July, the exact date that the company was originally founded.

“After 100 years of entrepreneurship and innovation, one can say that Rijk Zwaan is of great importance for the future of humanity”, says Jaap Smit, the King’s Commissioner, during the festive kick-off of the breeding company’s Centenary Celebration.

Ben Tax, one of Rijk Zwaan’s board members, commented: “We are delighted to receive this title. It is a symbol of societal appreciation and underlines the longevity of our company. This is the ultimate recognition of the efforts of everyone involved. Because, above all, people are the heart and soul of Rijk Zwaan.”

History shaped by growth

The company’s rich history began when the founder, Mr Rijk Zwaan himself, opened a seed shop in Rotterdam in 1924. His focus on quality and innovation proved to be a recipe for success. For the first four decades, the emphasis was on the horticultural market in the Netherlands, but exports to neighbouring countries gradually increased. In 1964, the first subsidiary was opened in Germany. This was followed by Rijk Zwaan France in 1982. From the 1990s onwards, the company expanded faster than anyone could have imagined.

Today, Rijk Zwaan employs 4,000 people. The company is represented in over 100 countries through more than 30 subsidiaries in all four corners of the globe. The head office is in the Netherlands.

Positive social impact

Due to the growing world population, especially in Africa and Asia, the demand for fruits and vegetables will continue to rise. Rijk Zwaan is staying ahead of this trend by developing fruit and vegetable varieties that are adapted to local climates, cultivation methods and consumer preferences.

In Tanzania, for example, the company has been breeding specifically for the African market for 15 years, and is now also increasingly focusing on the southeast Asian market from its facility in Vietnam. Board member Marco van Leeuwen explains: “By breeding improved local varieties, we aim to offer growers opportunities to obtain higher yields. Then, to boost their sales, we connect them with processing companies and retailers. Ultimately, this gives more people access to fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables. Seeds are not only the starting point for successful crops, but also for broader opportunities and possibilities.”

Continuous innovation

Every day, millions of people eat fruits and vegetables grown from Rijk Zwaan’s seeds. That responsibility inspires the company to focus on the future and continue innovating for its customers and value chain partners. “Recently, we’ve expanded into breeding tropical crops. At our breeding facility in Brazil, we select fruit and vegetable varieties that thrive in a hot and humid climate with the occasional heavy rain shower,” says board member Kees Reinink.

Additionally, earlier this year, Rijk Zwaan opened a new breeding facility in the Netherlands for berries: strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Kees Reinink: “That’s another example of how we continue pioneering and breaking new ground.”

The first day of the next century

The motto of ‘moving forward’ is firmly embedded in Rijk Zwaan’s DNA. With its focus on innovation and progress, the company will continue to pursue a pioneering approach. The board members are grateful to all employees, customers and value chain partners for their contribution to the success so far, and are looking forward to many more fruitful years of collaboration and growth in the coming century.