35 years ‘De Groene Weg’: market leader expects to grow to 100,000 organic pigs per year
Boxtel, 22 June 2016 – ‘De Groene Weg’ (The Green Way), the Vion Food subsidiary that focuses exclusively on organic meat, expects strong growth over the next years. Before the year 2020 the company will be slaughtering more than 100,000 organic pigs. Compared to the current volume, this is an increase of approximately 25%.
On Tuesday 21 June 2016, the enterprise celebrated its 35th anniversary. With 12 butcheries in the Netherlands and as a supplier of various large retail chains, the company is by far the market leader in the organic meat sector in the Netherlands. De Groene Weg exports over half of its production, and has a strong position in Germany in particular. The enterprise sees good possibilities to expand the export to other countries.
The turnover of organic meat in the Netherlands is steadily growing at a rate of 6 to 7 percent per year. “The market demand is the basis for De Groene Weg. We grow along with the market, and in this way maintain our leading position”, says Allard Bakker, Vion Farming Manager and ultimately responsible for De Groene Weg. The processing of organic pigs takes place in Vion Food’s specialised abattoir in Groenlo. In addition to this, De Groene Weg also processes organic beef carcasses.
Cooperation in the supply chain
Allard Bakker mentions the many years of good cooperation with organic pig farmers as being a major factor for success. The 65 farmers who supply their pigs to De Groene Weg are members of a suppliers association. The association discusses the purchase conditions with the company, as well as possible improvements at the live stock farms. “Over the years we have built up mutual confidence. That is an important condition for building up a strong position together”, according to Bakker. He gives as an example the fact that it is possible to work with a stable price for the pigs in the organic segment. “Four times a year we agree on a fair price that is acceptable to the live stock farmers. That reassures all parties.”
Gerard Top, Chairman of the suppliers association and live stock farmer in Zwartebroek, in the Veluwe region, confirms his words. “We work together in an optimal way in order to serve the market as well as possible. We experience that De Groene Weg is aware that we must receive a good price for our pigs in order to guarantee the continuity of our enterprises.” Top calls De Groene Weg “a good partner, also during less positive years.”
More pig farmers
Top is equally optimistic about the future. “The large retail chains show an increasing interest in organic products. That gives a boost to our sector.” In order to satisfy the growing demand, expansion of the supply is desirable. For this reason De Groene Weg is cooperating with the suppliers association for the conversion of a couple of dozen additional pig farms in the Netherlands.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Allard Bakker expects sufficient interest in this: “De Groene Weg is a successful chain concept and a good example of Corporate Social Responsibility. De Groene Weg’s organic meat has received the 3 stars from the Beter Leven Keurmerk (Better Life quality label) of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals (‘Dierenbescherming’). In addition to this, the story behind the meat is told by providing information about the organic farmers. That gives the live stock farmers a sense of pride and ensures a strong position for De Groene Weg.”