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Greenhouse Horticulture of Netherlands – labor market

Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands is very concerned about the labor market advice that the Social and Economic Council (SER) issued to the cabinet this week.

Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands is very concerned about the labor market advice that the Social and Economic Council (SER) issued to the cabinet this week. The association fears, among other things, an increase in the costs of hiring temporary workers.

The SER, which includes employers’ and employees’ organizations, wants to put an end to the growth of flexible work by reforming the labor market. According to the social partners, the interventions are necessary because there is increasing inequality and social dissatisfaction in the Netherlands. In a new advisory report, they advocate, among other things, the abolition of zero-hours contracts. Furthermore, working on a temporary contract should only last for a maximum of three years.

Greenhouse Horticulture of Netherlands - labor market 88

• Read also: Trade unions and employers agree on labor market reform

…realize an adequate work-to-work infrastructure for people who have to change jobs, so that there is always a prospect of new work now that demand is high in many sectors while others are shrinking. This gives people new security and we help them find a job before they become unemployed.

Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands also supports tackling improper flexible constructions. The introduction of mandatory certification for employment agencies, coupled with strict enforcement by the government, can play a role in this.

However, the association fears a cost increase when hiring seasonal workers. ‘This has major consequences for both the employer and the employee. That is unacceptable’, says chairman Adri Bom-Lemstra of Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands.

Charge on

Temporary employment agencies will pass on the higher cost price in the rate to the greenhouse horticultural entrepreneur, Bom-Lemstra expects. ‘However, they cannot pass this on to the retailer and the consumer. After all, they are not prepared to pay more for the products.’

Greenhouse horticulture in the Netherlands fears that the (international) competitive position will deteriorate as a result of the labor market advice if there is no accompanying policy to compensate for the cost increase. “The situation is getting worse. Given the average working hours in our sector, the introduction of a statutory minimum hourly wage will increase wage costs by 5 percent’, says Blom-Lemstra. She says it is striking that the SER advice has not been calculated on the financial consequences of the direct stakeholders.

Exception seasonal work

Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands is positive about the proposal to give seasonal work an exceptional position with an annual hours model. The question is, however, what is meant by the annual hours model and how this is worked out in a practical sense.

‘At the same time, it is not understood why the SER, now that seasonal work has been laid down in law, does not give advice on the introduction of a low unemployment insurance premium for temporary employment contracts for seasonal work. Precisely this would be a great incentive for hiring employees’, emphasizes the chairman of Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands.

There are also questions about the ‘opting out’ for the second year of sick leave. According to the association, this offers an apparent solution, because the premium that must be paid for this is based on the entire workforce.

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The restitution of the high unemployment insurance premium upon conversion from a fixed-term employment contract to a permanent employment contract, if so intended, is regarded as positive. The sector is also committed to this as part of the International Employees Master Plan.

Members of Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands support the aim of giving employees more net control at the level of the statutory minimum wage. However, this advice does not indicate how this can actually be achieved.

‘Increasing without an accompanying fiscal policy is good for the government, because of the payment obligations to the tax authorities. However, the employee will only see a limited increase in his net salary in this. However, the government can use this increased contribution to finance the increasingly expensive benefits, which are also linked to the WML with this advice. The employer pays the full bill’, concludes Adri Bom-Lemstra.



“Natural Branding”: Made in Germany

The term “Natural Branding” was applied by the Laserfood company as a word trademark, but not as a technology. However, on 5 May 2020, this trademark “Natural Branding” was declared invalid by the EUIPO (Invalidity No. 000029701C) due to its descriptive character. For this reason, EcoMark – as well as any other company – is allowed to use the description “Natural Branding” for laser marking of fruits and vegetables. The proceedings are currently still pending in the court of appeal. It is expected that the new decision will confirm this, as no new evidence was presented in the appeal.

The mentioned regulation 510/2013 is about the use of iron oxides and hydroxides (E 172) as contrast enhancers after fruit laser processing, not about the laser process itself. The use of laser technology for fruits and vegetables is not a protected process and is therefore permitted to virtually anyone. In this respect, there can be no question of “fraudulent behavior by competitors”. The only protected process that exists is a patent (see also Regulation 510/2013) for spraying fruits and vegetables with a special liquid after laser treatment. However, the liquid is not approved for organic products, and there is no connection to the term “natural branding”. That is why, in the organic sector, only the pure laser technology is used, which is not patented.

In 2018, EOSTA won the award for sustainable packaging, not with the technology of the company Laserfood, but for the basic use of laser technology instead of packaging. At that time, EOSTA was also already in possession of a Natural Branding machine from the company EcoMark Ltd.

The term “Natural Branding” had demonstrably been used by EOSTA and EcoMark for a long time when Laserfood was still using the term “natural light labeling”. It was not until “natural branding” had become accepted as a term for the laser labeling of fruits and vegetables that the company Laserfood applied for the trademark “natural branding” and only then used it itself.

The Laserfood company is not the inventor of the technique for laser branding fruits and vegetables, nor is it the market leader. The technology has also been continuously optimized for use on fruits and vegetables. For example, EcoMark now offers special laser techniques for specific products that are not offered by any other machine manufacturer.

“Building your own laser makes no economic sense when there are good systems ready to buy,” says Richard Neuhoff, managing director of EcoMark Ltd. “Sure – it saves money to buy the laser components cheaply,” Neuhoff adds. “However, the development effort for a good laser is high, and to offer worldwide service for it is not possible for small companies like EcoMark,” he said. That only leads to dissatisfied customers!”


EcoMark Ltd focuses on developing its own software to achieve competitive advantages in handling and for processes, ultimately increasing productivity. There is currently no faster product recognition than EcoMark. “With our concept, we can easily respond to customers’ needs and thus increase productivity. After all, in addition to the environmental reasons for Natural Branding, it is productivity and thus the profitability of the marking that is decisive in the end. That’s where EcoMark can score with the new “NB 12003 Professional” machine.” The fast 3D camera evaluation for product recognition combined with 120W laser power could already sell EcoMark several times.

“Currently, our NB machines are mostly used for organic product marking. However, due to their cost-effectiveness, they are now also increasingly requested for conventional products. It is not possible to mark more cheaply than with a laser, especially for large quantities.”

EcoMark’s claim is that every customer is able to react immediately to the degree of ripeness of the fruit, for example, or to create new products with new logos themselves. After all, this is the daily routine for our customers. If help is needed, however, it is usually very quick, so that the support is usually not charged for. “In the meantime, we live from our good reputation and further recommendations,” says Richard Neuhoff, managing director of EcoMark Ltd.


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Fruit salon – prices are the same as in a jewelry store: the most expensive fruit store operates in Japan

The Japanese are more than extravagant people, they always come up with something, go ahead of the rest of the world. This time they distinguished themselves with the world’s most expensive fruit salon.

Sembikiya is essentially a fruit shop, but the goods here are so expensive and the interior of the store resembles a jewelry salon, so “fruit salon” is a rather apt name.

This is the main store of the Japanese fruit giant Sembikia. It has been run by the same family since 1834. At the time, it was an ordinary fruit shop, but one day the second generation wife of the owner of the shop decided that they could make money in another way.

So, this is more of a gift shop than a store. About 80–90% of these goods are bought as a gift, because in Japan it is customary to give expensive fruits for official events (weddings, business negotiations and hospital visits).

Square watermelon – for only $ 212.

$ 69 for a package of royal strawberries (12 pieces).

Or a watermelon denuke for $ 127 ???

By the way, in 2011, farmers from Hokkaido were very sad because the price of these watermelons fell: the most expensive of them was then sold for “only” $ 4,000. Only 100 of these watermelons are grown in Hokkaido every year.

Yubari melons (one for $ 160 or two for $ 265). These are the most expensive fruits on earth. Once such a melon was sold at an auction for $ 23,500.

What’s so special about them? First, they are grown in ideal greenhouses and covered with hats to keep them from drying out in the sun. Each plant produces only one fruit, and to get the sweetest fruits, farmers cut the fruits ahead of schedule.
The Sembikia family claims that it was she who started the tradition of giving expensive fruits.


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Generational change at KWS


At this year’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, seed specialist KWS will be initiating a generational change to be implemented in several steps. Continuity, family tradition and expertise are the focus of the future Supervisory and Executive Board line-ups.

Andreas J. Büchting (74), Chairman of the Supervisory Board of KWS SAAT SE & Co. KGaA and general partner KWS SE, will resign from his position as scheduled at the end of his period in office in December 2022. At the request of the KWS SE family shareholders Büchting and Oetker, the current spokesperson of the Executive Board, Hagen Duenbostel (51), will be recommended as his successor starting in 2025 at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on December 6, 2022, and will subsequently begin the customary two-year cooling-off period on this date. It is intended that the former spokesperson of the Executive Board, Philip von dem Bussche (71), will assume the office of Chairman of the Supervisory Board on an interim basis through the end of 2024.

Felix Büchting (47) will succeed Hagen Duenbostel as the Executive Board spokesperson. With these decisions, the two top management positions will be filled for the long term.

Overview of the intended changes in the Executive Board and areas of responsibility:

  • End of 2021: Léon Broers will leave the KWS Executive Board as scheduled. Felix Büchting will assume responsibility of Research and Breeding. Peter Hofmann will assume responsibility of Cereals, Vegetables, Oilseed Rape/Special Crops & Organic Seed.
  • January 2022: Nicolás Wielandt, currently Head of Corn Europe, will join the KWS Executive Board. He will take over responsibility for Corn Europe (Peter Hofmann) and Corn South America (Hagen Duenbostel).
  • Fiscal Year 2021/2022: Responsibility for Corporate Governance, Compliance and Risk Management will be allocated to CFO Eva Kienle.
  • January 2023: Felix Büchting will assume the position Spokesperson of the Executive Board and responsibility for Group Strategy from Hagen Duenbostel. Nicolás Wielandt will take charge of Corn North America and Corn China and will therefore be responsible for the entire Corn segment.

KWS is a seed specialist among the world’s leading seed companies and has been independently managed and sustainably developed by the founding families since 1856. With the appointment of Felix Büchting as a seventh-generation representative of the founding family, and Marie Th. Schnell, who in 2016 succeeded her father Arend Oetker as a member of the Supervisory Board, the Büchting and Oetker shareholder families have underpinned their personal dedication and commitment to the company.

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