Agriculture minister Carola Schouten has launched a plan to promote the sale of Dutch regional products in supermarkets and farm shops.
She has not so far announced any concrete measures but a first step will be to organise a national trade mission to talk to farmers, producers, businesses and supermarkets.
The move is meant to popularise regional products. ‘We will not be handing out bags of money straight away but we will look into how we can remove obstacles which are a problem for small businesses. We can also help with logistical challenges in order to reduce costs for smaller players,’ spokesman Rudi Buis told RTL Nieuws.
Buis cited supermarkets in France and Spain. ‘Every supermarket there sells local products, and there is greater appreciation for them. Dutch supermarkets often sell local beers. It can’t be hard to include other local products as well.’
Stijn Markusse, the founder of farm produce shopping service Boerschappen said the problem is one of scale, with large scale supermarkets preferring to do business with other large parties. ‘It used to be possible but then supermarkets didn’t have 1,100 shops with comparable products at a comparable price.’
And while supermarkets find it easy to sell local beers it is more difficult for a product such as meat which has to be packaged. ‘A machine to do that will cost €20,000, not something you buy for the sake of participating in a pilot scheme,’ said Markusse.
Agriculture organisation LTO welcomes the plan. ‘We think the market should do its job and we feel the ministry shouldn’t decide what a buyer or business should do but we cannot oppose the promotion of Dutch products,’ LTO spokesperson Esther de Snoo told RTL.
Small scale farmers are keen too, said Markusse, if they can sell their produce at a reasonable price. ‘Supermarkets can spot a trend. You don’t see those photos of jolly farmers holding a basket of leeks for nothing.’