We also want to be meaningful to the social environment, in addition to reducing our footprint, demonstrating good employership, and contributing to food security. We do this by taking social responsibility with regard to our test fields, by providing and contributing to a healthy diet, by fostering our relationship with our stakeholders and by supporting charities. We carry out these activities based out of our head office in Joure. In the future we will also put all our locations around the world into action more actively, in order to provide social return.

Table of objectives*

Preventing child labour in test fields

HZPC has test fields in various climate zones, where new varieties are tested based on local conditions. These test fields are also located in poverty-stricken areas. Child labour is a deeply rooted problem in these areas. In our opinion, a child belongs at school, where he or she can build a future. This is why we make an effort to prevent child labour in our test fields.

It is mandatory for test field operators to sign a declaration, stating that child labour is not taking place in the test fields. Plantum’s statement against child labour formed the point of departure in this regard, and was customised for HZPC. But we wanted to do more. In many cases, the prohibition of child labour merely transfers the problem and does not address the cause. It is important to do something about the poverty in a community.

We are in the start-up phase of a food programme pilot project for Egypt. By offering children schooling, you allow them to build their future. A food programme is started at the school, at the same time as the schooling programme. School gardens are made at the schools. The children grow vegetables in these gardens, and are able to take the vegetables home with them. This means that the family’s needs are looked after, even while the child is learning at school.

At this moment (mid-2014), contacts are being established with partners in the agricultural sector, with interests in the same regions. If this pilot project scores a positive result, we will consider how to expand the project to other test field locations.

Healthy diet

Informing consumers with regard to the potato’s role in a healthy diet

Potatoes are full of good and important nutrients like vitamin C, B1, B6, Magnesium, zinc, carbohydrates, iron, folic acid and fibres. This makes the potato an ideal addition to a healthy and varied diet. They can be prepared in various ways, and can be combined with fresh vegetables to produce a healthy meal.

Read more on the potato

HZPC contributes to the global food supply with its potatoes, by offering food and energy-rich food. We also want to reinstate the contact between the consumer and this truly natural product from their local environment, directly from the land. We therefore inform young and old, with regard to the potato.

National school garden project

Research shows that children who are actively involved in the cultivation of vegetables have a tendency to eat more vegetables, and also enjoy the taste more. There are still many children who think that vegetables come from a factory and can only be found in the supermarket. The Nationaal Schooltuinproject was started in order to teach children about where food comes from, how it grows, and that it is healthy, fun and delicious. This is an initiative of Spar Supermarkten, and HZPC contributes to this initiative.

In 2013, more than 30,000 children in the primary school bracket were able to observe the growth and development of the Innovator and Annabel potato varieties. 1500 schools and mainstream secondary education schools (BSO) signed up, which was an enormous success. They were able to collect the free vegetable garden package from Spar and Boerenbond / Welkoop stores. These packages included a planter bag of 1 x 1 metres, potting soil, garden materials, vegetable seeds and a garden book. HZPC provided 2 varieties for the package.

From the end of March, the schools that signed up received a weekly digital newsletter from the project’s mascot, ‘Piepertje Pom’.  This striking little potato man gave tips and advice on the things that children should do in their little garden, through his own Twitter account and through the Schooltuinproject’s website. Extra activities, such as workshops, excursions and harvest festivals, were arranged.

The Schooltuinproject was a major success and was very greatly appreciated. This is why HZPC decided to participate again in 2014. The number of participating schools doubled in 2014.

More information is available at (dutch)

Guided class tours

We offer guided class tours at the greenhouse complex at Metslawier quite regularly. Here the children are able to view the modern, sustainable greenhouses, can hear about how potato breeding works and can see how potatoes grow in the test fields.  

Research on carbohydrates

During recent years we devoted more attention to the potato’s role in the consumer’s diet. In that context we perform research on taste, digestion and different health aspects.

HZPC participates in the Carbohydrate Competence Center (CCC). This is a public-private partnership between 19 companies and 6 knowledge institutions. The CCC wants to generate, develop and share high-quality knowledge on carbohydrates, to promote innovation and to contribute to a healthy and sustainable society. There are three fields of action:

  1. Research on the structure and functionality of carbohydrates
  2. Research on healthy carbohydrates (in order to maintain good health)
  3. Research on carbohydrate conversion and processing (for the production of innovative sustainable products)

The knowledge that is acquired in this partnership helps us in the development of new products for the consumer and business market. An example of product development is the development of a potato variety which has fewer calories, under the name Sunlite.

Fewer calories: Sunlite

Overnutrition is also a growing concern around the world, in addition to malnutrition. A special light potato was developed, even though the potato already has a low caloric value*. Sunlite is a tasty potato with fewer calories than the average potato. These Sunlite potatoes contain a mere 58 kcal per 100 grams, compared to an average of 83 kcal for the ordinary potato.

Relationship with stakeholders

HZPC has a relationship with many different stakeholders, and we play a different role for each of these: the role of employer, purchaser or client, supplier, supporter or producer. We want to maintain a good relationship with each of these stakeholders. We deem this so important, that we have established it as one of our core values:

‘We build long-term relationships and take responsibility for our actions.’

We do consider it important, with regard to sustainability, to have discussions with our growers. In February 2014 we organised meetings for our growers of propagating material. This was dedicated entirely to the problems surrounding soil and fertilisation. During these sessions, we explain HZPC’s sustainable ambition to our growers. The goal is to obtain new insights and ideas together, on how we can work on a specific problem as a team.

We are in constant dialogue with our stakeholders. In the future we will ask for input regarding the improvement of our sustainability, more emphatically. We will also involve our foreign locations in a structural way.

External representations
Gerard Backx, CEO of HZPC, is chairman of industry association Plantum* and ESA (The European Seed Association)*.
Plantum promotes the interests of companies in the vegetative propagation material sector, and acts on behalf of the sector as a discussion partner with governments and interest groups.

Other external representations:

  • Nederlandse Aardappel Organisatie (NAO)*
  • Stichting Veldleeuwerik*
  • Carbohydrate Competence Centre*
  • VNO-NCW*

Support to Charities

Charities of 2013

HZPC supports a number of charities each year around Christmas. The Charity Committee evaluates the charities that are recommended by various colleagues. Small-scale projects are selected, in the Netherlands and also abroad. In most cases, the amount of € 10,000 - which is made available for this purpose - is divided amongst four different projects.

International educational support
With this project, we want to offer ‘bachelor’ and ‘pre-university’ students the opportunity to study at the National College Bagepalli. Bagepalli is an agricultural area in an extremely dry climate. The area floods every five years, often followed by food scarcity.

Thanks to this project, the children of farmer families in this area can obtain a financial contribution, in order to study. This project can help to pay the study fees of twelve students (six bachelor and six pre-university students), over a period of three years. Donation of € 3,300 per year.

Stichting Vaarwens
Married couple Evert and Inge have a Loodstender (their own houseboat), called de Meander V. They decided to sign up as volunteers with a few ‘make-a-wish’ foundations. They took care of a number of free voyage days since 2007, for children with long-term illnesses or who are terminally ill. Children also come into consideration for a wish voyage. The number of voyage days has increased to an average of three days per week, because of the major success of their work. Stichting Vaarwens was founded, in order to finance this. They are able to collect sponsorship funds through the foundation, to cover the costs and to be able to afford the modifications to the vessel, to allow access to stretchers and wheelchairs. The couple’s work is done on a voluntary basis, and this will continue to be the case. Donation € 2,500.00.

IJM is a human rights organisation, and it provides legal aid to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent repression.

The four main goals are:

  • Immediate release and assistance to victims
  • Prosecution of offenders
  • Aftercare for victims
  • Structural change

One of the family members of one of our employees is part of a writing team which wrote a book, in 24 hours, explaining modern slavery. They wanted to raise money with this book for International Justice Mission. With the donation of € 2,500.00, we support new actions by the IJM, to help people.

Martzen ten Klooster | research analyst plant pathology

The Joure head office employees are extremely involved in their immediate area. In 2013, numerous employees submitted a request to help Voedselbank De Utjouwer in Joure with a donation. Many people were adversely affected by the economic crisis. By assisting the Food Bank with a donation of € 1,700.00 (in addition to the structural donation of potatoes to Voedselbank Noordoost-Nederland), they are able to purchase resources in support of the provision of food hampers.

Building a long-term relationship with Voedselbank Noordoost-Nederland

We can help families with financial problems, by providing them with potatoes. We entered into a long-term relationship with the food bank. We deliver potatoes to Voedselbank voor Noordoost-Nederland’s distribution centre, from our distribution centre in Emmeloord, and 40 food banks are supplied from this location. Every 14 days, 6,300 clients can be supplied with potatoes, by way of food hampers. We deliver 18,000 kg of potatoes per year.

The potatoes for the Dongeradeel and Dantumadeel food banks are delivered from our R&D location in Metslawier. The first potatoes will be collected in crates from September. Net bags are included, so that the food bank can divide the quantity per client. This food is currently used by 140 households.