50 years with heart and soil

Annual report 2022/2023

Contents

50 years with heart and soil

Fifty years ago, the passion for the potato served as a basis for the creation of the cooperative Agrico. On 2 April 1973, Agrico was formed from a merger of three cooperatives: the Groninger Pootaardappel- en Zaaizaadverkoopbureau (PZVB), the Coöperatieve Drentse Telersvereniging G.A. (DTV) and the Coöperatieve Producenten- en Handelsvereniging voor Akkerbouwgewassen G.A. Zuiderzeepolders. Now, 50 years later, with the export of seed potatoes throughout the world and various foreign subsidiaries, Agrico has become a serious world player.

The world has become Agrico’s farmland. The potatoes taken from the ground by Agrico growers here in the Netherlands, are replanted in the ground elsewhere in the world to grow into mature plants. This is how Agrico passionately contributes to food security for a growing world population with one of the most sustainable crops in the world. Agrico is at the forefront of the development of new varieties, with a focus not only on flavor, quality and yield, but primarily on a more sustainable world for future generations. Or: ‘With heart and soil… committed to the next generation’.
The theme chosen for Agrico’s 50th anniversary, which we celebrated extensively over the past year, shows that Agrico is also truly committed to the next generations. And we are far from finished. Onwards to the next 50 years!

Foreword

Battle erupts over raw materials

Agrico has more than 1,700 members spread across 721 farms. The number of farms falls by a few percent each year, but the seed potato acreage has remained relatively stable to date. But changes are afoot. We will lose 5% of the acreage during the 2023 harvest and, if we don’t address this, that loss will increase over the next few years. The emphasis on extensification of the agricultural plan in European legislation is reducing agricultural acreage. But the main cause is the rapid global increase in the consumption of French fries.

Overall less acreage

As a result of the high, global demand for French fries, in northwestern Europe we are increasingly being constrained by raw material supplies. This applies to seed, table, starch and ware potatoes. Therefore, the biggest challenge we will face together in future years is how we maintain our seed potato acreage.

How will we do that? The payout price needs to be substantially higher in the coming years. In any case, the difference with table potatoes should remain such that growers are satisfied and are inclined to grow seed potatoes again next year. At the same time, it is important that our buyers are able to pay those higher prices, and that will be an enormous challenge.

Growth in yield now order of the day

These global changes mean we must also review our strategy, which we adopted in 2018. Growth in acreage is no longer the focus. Healthy growth, the core of our strategy, now means that, above all, we must achieve good yields.

In this new playing field, we hope for both a European and national government that apply common sense. The fact that Europe is jeopardizing its food supply in such a way is, in our view, a dangerous trend. There is too little awareness of how important a healthy and vigorous agricultural sector is to Europe and certainly to the Netherlands too.

Mark Zuidhof and Jan van Hoogen, Agrico management board

Key Figures

A summary of our results

Financial

2022/23

2021/22

2020/21

2019/20

2018/19

Consolidated net turnover

409.754

343.136

292.731

335.747

319.819

Operating results

1.538

2.274

3.391

2.545

1.560






Fixed assets

43.026

36.792

34.221

29.517

23.442

Current assets

64.234

45.981

45.208

45.716

43.716

Balance sheet total

107.260

82.773

79.429

75.233

67.158

Reserves

35.813

34.895

33.004

29.734

27.668

Share of third parties

1.040

966

846

756

1.813

Total group equity

36.853

35.861

33.850

30.490

29.481

Subordinated loans of members

10.790

6.659

5.902

3.745

3.320

Solvency

44,4%

51,4%

50,0%

45,5%

48,8%

Cash flow from operating activities

-5.080

6.174

804

-1.313

2.822

Balance of cash and cash equivalents

7.951

7.210

7.128

10.199

18.721

Debts to members for produce delivered

24.927

17.128

15.723

16.126

13.947

Delivery

Acreage of seed potatoes

14.733

14.965

14.848

14.633

14.016

Quantity supplied

555.900

501.700

510.700

549.700

421.900

Acreage of ware potatoes

1.991

2.403

2.295

1.985

1.791

Quantity supplied

97.200

105.200

112.300

94.200

79.200

Totals

Number of members

1.739

1.804

1.452

1.564

1.369

Number of businesses

721

734

801

804

777

Number of employees (in FTEs)

283

279

273

268

243

Solvency


2018/19

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

2022/23

Debt capital

34.357

40.998

39.677

40.253

59.617

Equity capital

29.481

30.490

33.850

35.861

36.853

Subordinated loans

3.320

3.745

5.902

6.659

10.790

Solvency

48,8%

45,5%

50,0%

51,4%

44,4%

Balance sheet total

67.158

75.233

79.429

82.773

107.260

No Data Found

Mission and vision

Aiming for maximum contribution to members’ incomes

Mission: A passion for potatoes!

Based on our cooperative structure, we supply high-quality seed and ware potatoes worldwide, along with the required expertise. We develop varieties that are suitable for any location on earth where professional, successful and sustainable potato cultivation is possible. This is our way of contributing to food security for a growing global population. We create value for our customers and the Cooperative’s members with respect for people and the environment.

Vision: Growth is our ambition!

By improving professional standards within the organization, we ensure a better quality of potato cultivation. This with maximum attention for innovation, people and the environment. Our growth stems from the increasing demand for seed potatoes worldwide. We develop the best varieties for existing and new markets. For ware potatoes, both conventionally and organically grown. In an inspiring environment, we work towards achieving optimum growth for all our stakeholders.

Supervisory Board

“The more committed the members, the more the cooperative will thrive”

Adrie Vermeulen will soon be stepping back from his role as chairman of the Agrico potato cooperative, his cooperative. The arable farmer from Swifterbant will be remembered as a chairman who gave every member the chance to be heard.

The next fifty years

I foresee many changes. Here in the Netherlands, we primarily live and work in urban areas, making us very visible as a sector. Our seed potatoes present us with a beautiful and sustainable crop, which is exported throughout the world. There is no doubt that a rosy future lies ahead. However, that future only exists if, as an entrepreneur, you take into account, and consult with, society and stakeholders.”

What will change?

The available acreage is decreasing and there is increasing pressure on farming businesses to keep the environmental impact to a minimum. Also evident this year is the increasing competition between growing seed potatoes, potatoes suitable for fries and ware potatoes.”

You don’t perceive that as a threat?

I think that healthy pressure on an organization keeps the board and management on the ball. They will have to demonstrate how they will manage this. I say to our members that they must be mindful of opportunism and, when comparing prices, have the courage to think past the first year and look at a five-year period.”

Are Agrico’s members discerning?

Yes, fortunately they are. My hypothesis is: discerning members means committed members. The more committed the members, the more the cooperative will thrive. I think this is something we’ve worked very hard towards in recent years, ensuring the members are properly involved in the plans that we make and including them at an early stage in what we are doing.”

Can you give an example of this in the past financial year?

Yes, definitely. When setting up a whole new cooperative for ware potato growers, we didn’t only focus on improving the position of our member ware potato growers, we also listened to them and involved them closely from the very start of the process. Also, another member commitment survey took place in early 2023.”

Isn’t it strange to completely change the strategy in a short period of time?

In my opinion, that demonstrates strength. I remember Mark Zuidhof saying to me: “Look, this is part of our current strategy, but I don’t think this will happen in practice, do you? That was a prelude to reviewing our ware potato strategy. We did not act from a position of power, but decided to build a new future for our members.”

Report of the Management Board

The year of change

The arrival of a new general director, the hiving off of conventional ware potato cultivation activities, the recalibration of the 2018 strategy, and the arrival of the new ERP system with grower portal. Financial year 2022-2023 will go down in history not only as the company’s 50th anniversary, but also as the year of change.

New director

Mark Zuidhof was appointed operational director (COO) of Agrico on 16 September 2022. Since then, he and general director Jan van Hoogen (CEO) have formed Agrico’s Statutory Board. This temporary adjustment of the management structure was chosen to ensure a ‘warm transfer’ of tasks, authorities and responsibilities. With effect from 1 January 2024, Jan van Hoogen will step down as general director and from that moment onwards, Agrico will once again have a one-man leadership, with Mark Zuidhof as CEO.

New cooperative of ware potato growers

A second major change to take place at Agrico this year, was the hiving off of the ware potato cultivation activities. Following a long and intensive process, in May 2023 it was announced that the ware potato activities of Agrico and Nedato would be merged to form a new independent cooperative of ware potato growers: PotatoNext. PotatoNext is a fully independent cooperative, in which neither Agrico nor Nedato hold shares. Through this move, Agrico has in fact distanced itself from conventional ware potato cultivation.

Organic is important

Activities within the organic market remain very important to Agrico, in part due to the Next Generation varieties with which Agrico has been positioning itself for a number of years. Agrico intentionally injected new life into the BioSelect brand in 2022. “From a political perspective, organic food is an important topic.”

The Lotus Project

During the past financial year, Agrico was still in the midst of a large-scale multi-annual project called Lotus. The new ERP system officially went live on 1 August 2022. This system allows Agrico to collect much more data on potato batches. In brief, the new ERP system will be much more data-driven: which batches are suitable for which destination and which members are best equipped to supply those batches? The system will allow Agrico to get more out of the market.

Future strategy to be revised

In 2018, Agrico outlined a future strategy to address seed potato cultivation globally up to 2030. But this strategy must already be revised in view of recent developments. Discussions concerning this revision started during the 2022-2023 season and the new strategy will be revealed in the new financial year.

50 years of Agrico celebrated extensively

Agrico was founded on 2 April 1973, and started to celebrate its 50th anniversary extensively on 3 April 2023. Throughout the year, Agrico organized various events for growers, members, buyers and employees. The theme: ‘With heart and soil… committed to the next generation’ was at the heart of all these celebrations

"It is both an honor and challenge to succeed Jan. He is a household name in our sector. I will do everything I can to take our company’s position to the next level."
Mark Zuidhof
General director

Financial Results

Passing the € 400 million mark

For the first time in its history, Agrico passed the € 400 million mark in sales. In absolute terms, the record amount of € 233 million was also paid to growers. An interview with Mark Kranenburg, Finance & Control manager.

Record sales for the second consecutive year. Did you expect that?

It soon became apparent that we would deliver at least the same volume of potatoes than we did during the last financial year, whilst the sale prices for seed potatoes and ware potatoes were substantially higher on all fronts. So we did forecast that higher turnover, but it’s always great when records are broken.”

What is the picture if this is broken down into seed potatoes and ware potatoes?

At Agrico B.V., seed potato sales were approx. € 34 million (+16%) higher than the previous year and consumption potato sales (ware potatoes, table potatoes grown from seed potatoes and feed potatoes) approximately € 19 million (+50%) higher. The increase is mainly due to higher prices, because the volume of seed potatoes rose by 4% and the volume of table potatoes rose by 6%. The subsidiaries did well again: the remaining € 14 million increase in turnover is due to higher sales at some of our international subsidiaries.”

Increased sales, but also higher direct costs. What impact has this had on the gross margin?

That amounted to around € 42 million, an increase of 9% in comparison to the previous financial year. That is 10% of the sales, in comparison to 11% last year. The margin therefore decreased, but this is largely explained by higher payout prices. The net operating result amounts to € 1.5 million; this amount is added to the equity capital.”

Are you pleased with the results?

Despite the high inflation and the high incidental (project) costs, financially it has been a solid year. This has allowed us to make, in my view, very good payouts to our growers.”

"Never before in Agrico’s history was such a high turnover achieved."
Mark Kranenburg
Manager Finance & Control

Agrico Research

Doubling of trial field acreage

Having purchased 31 hectares of agricultural land in late 2022, Agrico Research has expanded its trial field acreage. Furthermore, during this financial year, preparations were underway for a change of management. And one variety was granted breeders’ rights.

New director

Peter Oldenkamp has been the Director of Agrico Research since 1 August 2023, succeeding Sjefke Allefs as Director. During the final months of this financial year, Oldenkamp already worked in parallel with Allefs to enable him to get off to a flying start. Oldenkamp holds a degree in Agronomy from Wageningen University. He then held various positions within the fields of research, breeding and product management.

One new variety

Year after year, Agrico Research works on developing new, innovative potato varieties. This year, the variety Fajah, grown by affiliated grower R. Rispens, was granted breeders’ rights. “Fajah is quite an early maincrop variety for countries to which seed potatoes are traditionally exported from the Netherlands. It is a strong variety for the growing conditions there and produces uniform and large tubers,” Allefs says.

Recalibration of the 2018 strategy

The 2018 strategy of Agrico Research has been recalibrated. In terms of its content, the strategy remains the same for now. However, plans are being developed to partially renovate and expand the available research facilities in the near future.

Other activities

Every year, Agrico Research helps the gene bank in Wageningen to propagate various wild potato varieties from Central and South America from seed, to ensure their availability and to allow them to be distributed to interested parties. “Sometimes, new resistances and other desirable properties are found in this potato material, which can help us to move forward,” Allefs explains.

Seed Potatoes

A significant rise in payout prices

Dutch seed potato prices are on the rise. After the 2021 increase, Agrico is again paying growers substantially more per hundred kilograms for seed potatoes from the 2022 harvest: € 35.77. With no sign of a slow-down in prices in the immediate future.

Significant rise in prices

The market was able to sell the larger volumes at (on average) considerably higher prices. Agrico pays its members a price of € 35.77 per 100 kilograms for all kilos supplied of 28 millimeters upwards. This price is an average for all varieties, sizes and classes supplied.

Early export pays

In recent years, Agrico has invested a lot of time and energy in ensuring sufficient quantities of seed potatoes are available for early export, which is roughly from mid-September to the end of October. The board believes that higher sales early in the season helps to reduce the risk for the cooperative and therefore the growers.

Varieties for the fries industry sold out

Varieties for the fries industry were also in very high demand. “All varieties sold out completely,” says Van der Werff. Fontane and Markies in particular once again did very well. Another interesting development is that a new promising variety is now available for the potato chips industry: Napoleon. Napoleon is suitable for processing into potato chips. It is quite a late variety with a high net yield and excellent storability.

Challenging European ware potato market

While seed potatoes sold well overseas and to the fries industry, the European ware potato market clearly failed. Ware potato growers in Europe experienced a huge increase in the cost of growing and either stopped growing potatoes, or decided to grow potatoes for other segments.

Storage allowance up by 20%

Although the costs for container transport and conventional ship consignments fell across the board, they remain up to 50% more expensive than pre-Covid 19 levels, depending on the destination. However this year, enough containers were available for all destinations. “For the growers, costs have also risen sharply over the past year. For this reason, the Pool Committee increased the storage allowance by 20%.” Agrico paid an average storage allowance of € 2.39 per hundred kilos.

2023-2024 forecasts

When contemplating the future, Van der Werff is optimistic about the pricing, but at the same time developments in relation to the seed potato acreage are worrying. “Because of the sharp upturn in demand, the fries industry is paying increasingly higher prices for the contracts they enter into with table potato growers. These developments are, of course, very positive for the sector as a whole, but there is also a risk that seed potato growers will be tempted to grow table potatoes.

Organic Seed Potatoes

From the start of the season, the organic potato market was characterized by surpluses. Across northwestern Europe, growers had very few or even no problems with late blight infestations. As a result, the yields per hectare were much higher than in 2021; the yield per hectare of Agrico growers was on average 31,418 kg. At the same time, organic potato sales were disappointing in many countries due to the impact of rising inflation.

This resulted in a significantly lower pool result, with an average of € 46.18 per 100 kg for all sizes, classes S to A inclusive. In 2021, the average price was significantly higher at € 62.82. Nevertheless, due to the high physical yield, the financial result per hectare for the 2022 harvest, at € 14,508, was still slightly higher than it was in 2021 when the financial result was € 14,246. Better prices are predicted in the year ahead.

Ware potatoes

New cooperative, new opportunities

As the ware potato market had already been shrinking for many years, Agrico decided to merge ware potato activities and form a new independent cooperative of ware potato growers: PotatoNext UA. From 1 October 2023, both Agrico’s and Nedato’s ware potato growers became members of PotatoNext. The cooperative has therefore distanced itself from conventional ware potato cultivation.

Poor storage

Some lots were difficult to store and had to be loaded earlier than foreseen. This gave some pressure on the market” says manager of commerce, Wieger van der Werff. “The period around Christmas, which normally sees a huge increase in the tonnages, was absent this year.”

Organic market

From the start of the season, the organic market was characterized by surpluses. In northwestern Europe, there were few or even no problems with late blight and the yields were good. There were, however, some quality problems due to drought later in the growing season. The high yields overshadowed the market.

Outlook of organic

Van der Werff is positive about the outlook for the organic market. “The market is completely empty and, with their contracts, the industries have laid a solid foundation under the entire potato market.” Because of last year’s disappointing market, growers in France (plus other countries) have cut back drastically on their organic potato acreage, at least 20% less has been planted there.

Growers to PotatoNext

In May 2023, Nedato, Agrico and Agrico subsidiary Leo de Kock announced they were merging their conventional ware potato activities to form a new cooperative of ware potato growers. This cooperative has been named PotatoNext, The Dutch Potato Cooperation.

Subsidiary Leo de Kock

Leo de Kock merges to form PotatoNext

Leo de Kock in Purmerend had a very good year. It was also the company’s last financial year as an Agrico subsidiary. Leo de Kock has merged with the conventional ware potato growers of Agrico and Nedato to form a new independent cooperative, PotatoNext.

Strengthening the position of growers

The Leo de Kock company officially ceased to exist on 1 October 2023. The company has merged to form PotatoNext BV, a new cooperative formed by the companies Agrico, Nedato and Leo de Kock. By means of this merger, the three companies aim to strengthen the position of ware potato growers in the chain. The market is shrinking by a few percent annually, whilst consumer demand is shifting from traditional potato dishes to more versatile uses. The companies believe they will be stronger together and will be able to cut costs. We are also able to make faster progress in terms of innovation.

Better future prospects

The three organizations that make up PotatoNext believe the merger will help ware potato growers in the Netherlands to move forward. “In this new cooperative, the strategy focuses in its entirety on ware potato cultivation and the cooperative is owned by the ware potato growers themselves. This combining of strengths will give these growers better future prospects,” says director Mark Zuidhof from Agrico.

Records broken

Leo de Kock closed its final year in style. “In terms of annual turnover, we exceeded € 30 million for the first time. And for the first time in history, we achieved sales of more than € 3 million in just one month, so we have broken a couple of records,” says Bijleveld. “Ware potato sales were reasonably successful and there was greater cost efficiency in comparison to the two previous financial years during the coronavirus pandemic,” Werring decides.

International Subsidiaries

A more than challenging year

Challenging? More than challenging,” Gilles Fontaine answers when asked how he characterizes the 2022-2023 potato year. And there were various reasons for that.

The market for ware potato consumption has been declining globally for several years. This resulted in many Agrico subsidiaries once again being left with unsold batches of seed potatoes. An additional problem was that the quality of the potatoes was mediocre. There were also significant cost increases. All of the foregoing put various subsidiaries under pressure.

KPIs met after all

The international subsidiaries as a whole managed to achieve the predicted KPIs by the end of the season. “This was down to a number of reorganizations, allowing us to respond quickly to market conditions.”

Positive developments

This year we launched a new subsidiary in Spain – Agrico España. This business has got off to a promising start. We also broke sales records in a number of countries outside Europe, with a combination of import and local production. Agrico also continues to invest in good and committed employees.”

9% decline in seed potato acreage

Gilles Fontaine says that the decline in seed potato acreage as a result of increasing competition from the fries industry is slightly worrying. Nevertheless, he is convinced that this decline is temporary and that the acreage will return to the desired level within a few years.

CSR

CSR is the intrinsic value of Agrico

With heart and soil… committed to the next generation’. “That’s the theme of our anniversary year and I believe that this aligns perfectly with our CSR policy,” says René Vernooij, CSR Manager at Agrico.

He continues: “As an agricultural organization, we feel directly connected to nature and the environment and we respect the earth on which we live. That is integrated into our mission. We try to structure our activities based on this perspective. So we produce and act in a way that demonstrates our respect for nature, the environment, the earth and people.”

Food security

‘We try to work on sustainable potato chains and from there make our contribution to, for example, food security, one of our five CSR themes. Potatoes make a special contribution to food security because of their versatile applications and because potatoes are naturally sustainable. Agrico develops innovative potato varieties for every place on earth where professional, successful, fair and sustainable potato growing is possible. We do this in a professional, personal and committed way, combined with a robust CSR policy,” Vernooij says.

Potato value chains

For the past 50 years, Agrico has been working on developing new value chains, and therefore food security. “The development of markets and food supply are two topics that are inextricably linked. These form part of the ‘food system’. “A system in which all components of the value chain must interact to create the right value for the potato. From growers of propagation material, trading partnerships, government authorities and inspection bodies, to processing plants, financiers and suppliers,” says Vernooij.

Next Generation varieties

A key part of our business activities is developing our Next Generation varieties, which are resistant to the most prevalent potato diseases, reducing the need for plant protection products. With their high yields, these varieties also boost the incomes of growers worldwide.

CSR policy is a pillar of our strategy

To achieve this excellent growth, the CSR policy has been identified as a key pillar in Agrico’s business operations in our Strategy 2030.

From mission to execution

Agrico is a powerful cooperative and a force for innovation within the potato sector, creating, strengthening and increasing the sustainability of potato value chains. We deliver strong potato varieties to destinations around the world, that are perfectly suited to local markets and conditions. This makes it possible to create a greater positive impact together, for present and future generations.

Five cornerstones of our CSR policy

The five cornerstones of our CSR policy have been incorporated into our strategy. “The five cornerstones align with the interests of our stakeholders and are also linked to ten of the United Nations’ seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The aim of these SDGs is to change, improve and increase the sustainability of our world,” says Vernooij.

* In future years, the CSRD will feature prominently in the annual financial report. To avoid every company reinventing the wheel, several trade organizations have taken the initiative to set up joint implementation projects. Agrico participates in such projects through Plantum and Europatat.

** In a way that is both inspirational and practical, the Frontrunner Project helps businesses and other organizations to operate more sustainably, allowing them to work towards a future-proof organization with sustainable products and services. In turn, the Frontrunners enthuse other businesses, taking them on the same journey.

Together, they contribute to a strong and future-proof regional economy and a safe and people-centered society.

In a Frontrunner Project, you join forces with other businesses for a number of months. You receive individual and bespoke coaching, and during a number of inspiring meetings, you exchange knowledge and experiences with other participants.

Colofon

Editorial

Gisela Staal

Manon Kutschruiter

communicatie@agrico.nl

Thanks to

Atlas Digital and Gerbengerrit for design

Jelle Feenstra for introductory text

Contact

Agrico Headquarter

Duit 15

8305 BB Emmeloord

Nederland

+31 527 63 99 11

www.agricopotatoes.com