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Why the ‘Hoogstraten strawberry’ approaches scientific perfection

Every restaurant owner, every supermarket and every retailer who wants to be sure of the quality of his strawberries knows that he has to be in the north of the Kempen. The ‘Hoogstraten strawberry’ approaches scientific perfection in shape, taste, shine and firmness.

“The bar is set extremely high,” says Hans Vanderhallen, director of Coöperatie Hoogstraten. “And 180 growers are doing everything they can to achieve it.”

The name ‘Hoogstraten strawberry’ doesn’t just ring a bell in our country, it is known all over Europe as a top strawberry. She didn’t just get that reputation, it’s a story that goes back to the first half of the last century. First protagonist: Hoogstraten himself. The climatic and geographical conditions for a strawberry are nowhere better: the nights are cold and when it is warm, it is really warm. “And you have sandy soils here – important, because they don’t retain the heat for long at night and a strawberry plant likes that,” Hans Vanderhallen, director of Coöperatie Hoogstraten, tells Het Laatste Nieuws .

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Why the 'Hoogstraten strawberry' approaches scientific perfection 88

Coöperatie Hoogstraten is the second important factor in the journey to the top. Since its foundation in 1933, it has been the place where all strawberries from the region are supplied and where they are sold on the clock in the morning to leave for the recipient straight away. The ‘export’ track was launched soon after its foundation. “But then there had to be strict quality standards, the Cooperative thought,” explains Vanderhallen. “To put our strawberry on the map, we had to strive for perfection.”

Key to success: consequence

Perfection is not something you achieve just like that and various initiatives have been set up. There was an agricultural and horticultural school where you could learn the trade, and Proefcentrum Hoogstraten was established in the Meerle district. “Meanwhile, they come from all over the world to look at that Test Center”, Vanderhallen knows. “All knowledge is here under one roof. In terms of cultivation techniques, biological control, research into varieties, everything.” Information officers from the Research Center then return to the field with that knowledge.

Growers still identify with the cooperative. They realize that their own identity is only so strong because they are in the group

Hans Vanderhallen – Coordinator Coöperatie Hoogstraten

“Quality is everything”, emphasizes Vanderhallen again. “A grower picks his strawberries, immediately puts them in the refrigerator and transports them the same evening to the Cooperative. There they are inspected for the first time, and again the next morning, just before the clock goes off. a fragile product, a lot can go wrong. The key to our success is consistency. No compromises on quality.” If all goes well, a strawberry can already be in your shopping cart 24 hours after being picked.

Many own identities, one cooperative

About 180 growers meet all quality requirements. One does it with ultramodern techniques, the other still in the traditional way. “That producers are adopting their own identity is indeed something that happens more often than in the past,” Vanderhallen told VILT in an earlier interview . “We are also collaborating to some extent: with an app you can access the profile of the grower via the code on our strawberries. In this way we give the grower a face. But today this is not happening to the detriment of the collective. Growers still identify with the cooperative. They realize that their own identity is only so strong because they are in the group.” 

Since 2019, the Coöperatie Hoogstraten has taken this even further. “With strawberries, we allow buyers to choose from which grower they purchase the products,” explains Vanderhallen. “In addition to the price on the clock, a surplus has to be paid that goes directly to the grower. Buyers are willing to pay that surplus because, for example, they are very satisfied with the quality of a certain grower or because they have built up a good relationship with that grower. In this way we ensure that everyone is in the same block, but also that the block becomes stronger.”

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Whoever stands out in terms of quality – and that is appreciated by the buyer – will be rewarded. This also provides an incentive for other growers to continue to focus on quality. “I call this individualism that benefits the collective,” concludes Vanderhallen. In 2020, 40,000 people from all over Europe scanned the code, more than 2,000 of them also left a message thanking the grower, a fifth of them from England and France.

With those 180 growers, it is now all hands on deck. Due to the warm weather of last weekend, the ripening of the strawberries has started to catch up on a massive scale. If you are still looking for inspiration for a dish or a drink with strawberries: this is the place to be!

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Tebarex – Horti Technology

We greatly appreciate your attention and interest in our company and our products.
In the rapidly changing world of modern horticulture, where quality and cost control are key concepts,
choosing the right supplier in the area of technology and automation is of vital importance.
Tebarex is formed by a team of experienced engineers who has been working for many years
in the companies Tebarint, Van der Arend Tuinbouwtechniek and Arend-Sosef.

The wide-ranging experience we have gained in all conceivable climatic conditions,
including the cold in Russia and the heat in the Middle East, has taught us that only the highest level of quality is good enough!
The correct design, proper choice of materials, optimal guidance and support in execution,
and a well-organized after-sales service are therefore in the most capable hands with us.
For the design we use the latest design tools.

Tebarex, established in the Netherlands, combines this “global experience” with the innovations which regularly occur in Dutch horticulture.
So, you may rest assured that, for your project as well, the applicability of the very latest technologies in the area of horticulture,
is carefully studied for feasibility and efficiency.
As a matter of course, we are working with clear, well-defined offers, designs and drawings,
leaving no questions you may have unanswered and affording a clear choice.
Tebarex is equipped with advanced ERP software that all projects can be optimally managed.

Our motto therefore is “your succes is our succes”

Our dedication to helping you realize your “goals” has made us one of the world’s leading companies in the area of horticultural technology.

Let us be your partner in technology, we’re looking forward to meet you.

Tebarex B.V.
Jogchem van der Houtweg 4
2678 AG de Lier
The Netherlands

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+31 (85) 483 2170
info@tebarex.com
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Bell pepper growers celebrate new name variety

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The new yellow pepper variety E20B.0375 from Enza Zaden is now called Solaste. In honor of this name change, various growers received a cake and a plate with the new name of the variety. 
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Representative Luc Trines visited John de Groot of Kwekerij Concordia in Harmelen. Grower John had already tested Solaste last year and immediately shared his positive experiences: “Solaste colors very easily and evenly, especially in the beginning, does not need a deep pre-midnight and sets quite easily. The plant is more compact and Solaste does not put much on the side branches. This keeps the fruit weight higher, which is a big advantage.” 

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Nursery Tas and nursery Motreahof have also opted for E20B.0375 Solaste peppers. They also received cake and a plate. 

For more information: 
Enza Zaden Netherlands
www.enzazaden.nl

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Aramco invests in “Red Sea farm” $10 million for saltwater cultivation

Growing on water with mainly salt water offers great opportunities for greenhouse horticulture. That’s why Red Sea Farms, a Saudi Arabian farm, recently raised $10 million from a group of investors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
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Aramco invests in "Red Sea farm" $10 million for saltwater cultivation 112

The investment in Red Sea Farms, located at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), a hundred kilometers north of Jeddah, is one of the largest AgTech investments in the region to date. The consortium reflects the growing interest of investors in the Gulf region in sustainable horticultural solutions that can respond to global supply chain disruptions due to, for example, a pandemic.

he funding is led by a group of investors from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, including Aramco’s Wa’ed venture capital fund, the non-profit Future Investment Initiative Institute foundation, KAUST and Global Ventures, a UAE venture capital group. For many of the participants, this adventure is one of the first AgTech investments.

Salt instead of fresh
Red Sea Farms was founded in 2018 with the aim of reducing food insecurity, carbon footprint and freshwater use in the food sector worldwide and in the Gulf region in particular. The company’s unique all-encompassing growing system uses primarily saltwater, reducing freshwater consumption by 85 to 90 percent.

A patented system of more efficient technologies for generating and applying solar energy and monitoring crop growth now allows use of salt water instead of fresh water typically used to cool greenhouses and water crops .

Pilot greenhouse
“Red Sea Farms’ cultivation systems can be scaled up quickly and easily in warm climates such as the Middle East, where conventional cultivation methods are not possible or cost-effective. We will initially use the technology to grow and market tomatoes in Saudi Arabia, but eventually we plan to bring complete turnkey growing systems to market for interested parties all over the world,” explains the Red Sea Farms team. “The funding will be used to set up more than six hectares of commercial cultivation activities in Central and Western Saudi Arabia through new construction or modernization of existing facilities.”

The company currently operates a saltwater test greenhouse in the KAUST Research & Technology Park.

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Aramco invests in "Red Sea farm" $10 million for saltwater cultivation 113

This investment is the first from the non-profit Future Investment Initiative Institute in high-tech horticulture. “Our investment in Red Sea Farms fits well with our mission to support initiatives and projects that can have a positive impact on humanity,” said Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute. “Our triple strategy ‘Think-Xchange-Act’ enables us to play a decisive role in the new impact economy. We are excited to partner with King Abdullah University for Science and Technology and other key investment groups to bring this revolutionary technology to market.”

Red Sea Farms, a KAUS spin-out and advised by the Kirchner Group, was originally founded by Tester, a plant scientist, and Lefers, an expert in horticultural engineering. Both also recently acquired Iyris Advanced Desert Greenhouses, a smart glass manufacturer developed by Derya Baran based on solar technologies and optical tuning. For example, Baran, who is also affiliated with the university, became a co-founder of Red Sea Farms.

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Red Sea Farms received a $1.9 million investment in 2019 from the KAUST Innovation Fund and the Saudi Arabia-based Research Products Development Company. KAUST, a leading research university, is a major innovator of sustainable growing solutions for the Middle East and other water-scarce regions.

RSF is tackling the food and water nexus in the region, but also in geographies where the climate limits the possibilities of agriculture. To us, what stands out most about the company is the unmatched trifecta of the solution. Co-founders, Dr. Mark Tester and Dr. Ryan Lefers, married their individual scientific specialties to create a solution at the intricate intersection of engineering, plant sciences and innovation.

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