If you bought tomatoes or lettuce in the supermarket today, there is an excellent chance the seeds came from a Seed Valley company. This is a region in the Netherlands. A large number of leading vegetable and flower breeding companies are situated there. From this region, the whole world is supplied with seeds used to cultivate flowers and vegetables.
More than 2,500 people work at these breeding and seed technology companies in North Holland. The latest figures show that combined job opportunities in the region will climb by six percent in the coming years. This statistic makes this region an economically important sector for the Netherlands and the world. And that in 'our back yard' as they like to say in Seed Valley.
Half the world's largest seed companies are in Seed Valley
New figures confirm that Seed Valley is a fertile breeding ground for the development of new vegetable and flower varieties. Last month, Seed Valley commissioned BDO to do a study. They were to research the collective sales and employment opportunities of the breeding and seed technology companies in the region. The businesses, themselves, supplied the data.
Over the last decade, sales have increased by seven percent annually. This growth is continuing. The latest survey shows that sales will increase by an average of 5% in the coming years. This totals more than €1.4 billion. Ten seed companies strongly dominate the global trade in vegetable and flower seeds. Five of these have their headquarters or research facilities in Seed Valley.
To realize their growth, companies in Seed Valley take on around 300 new employees per year. These people work in varying levels and within different fields - from research and breeding to sales and HR.
High-tech research is indispensable: roughly 14% goes to R&D
The companies in Seed Valley need to maintain their lead in the world market. To do so, they spend, on average, 14% of their revenue on research and new technologies. This is necessary to develop varieties that have high yields. The plants from these seeds must also be disease resistant and the vegetables must taste better.
Modern techniques support the classic process of cross-breeding and selection. These new methods include analyzing a plant's DNA. Researchers look for the desired characteristics. This often speeds up the breeding process. In the past, it used to take 10 to 15 years to bring a disease-resistant variety onto the market.
Now, this sometimes only takes five to ten years. Investment in this sector is significantly higher than in other areas. The employees level of knowledge is also higher. Almost half of the people employed in these companies' R&D divisions have a college or university degree.
International visitors flock to Seed Valley
Seed Valley companies are active in 35 countries throughout the world. They serve the global market with custom-made products for every continent and all kinds of climates. Every year during their Open Days, Seed Valley receives thousands of international clients.
In the last week of September, Seed Valley is an international stage. Peers from all corners of the earth are introduced to new varieties and technologies pertaining to plant breeding. This year, these open days will take place from Tuesday, 24 to Saturday, 28 September. Click here for more information.
Seed Valley is the global center for plant breeding and seed technology. More than 40 innovative companies develop high-quality varieties and new techniques for the vegetable and flower cultivation sector here.
The Seed Valley collaboration was formed ten years ago. At that time, breeding companies had problems attracting suitable personnel. Under the Seed Valley flag, future employees are encouraged to choose an education and career in the seed industry.