Toespraak van SG Maarten Camps bij Kiremko

Toespraak van secretaris-generaal Maarten Camps bij de uitbreiding van de Kiremko-fabriek in Montfoort op 19 mei 2017. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Every year, 16 million tourists visit the Netherlands for their holidays. Most tourists stay in Amsterdam, and in spring, many of these tourists will probably also visit the Keukenhof. It’s the world-famous Dutch showcase for tulips and other flowers grown from bulbs. This really supports the image of the Netherlands as a country of flowers.

Usually, tourists are also aware that we have a strong agriculture and horticulture sector. They know we have a lot of cows and outstanding cheese factories, and thousands of greenhouses – which they probably saw from the plane, right before touching down at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Millions of foreign visitors that know us for our tulips, our cheese and our greenhouses, have yet to consider another very Dutch product: the potato.

Even though for centuries now, potatoes have been a major part of Dutch culture. It’s not a coincidence that one of the most famous paintings by Van Gogh, 'The Potato Eaters', is a depiction of – well – of people eating potatoes ...

When it comes to the potato industry, the Dutch are – quite literally – masters in the field. Within a century of its introduction to the Netherlands, in the 1600s, the potato became one of the country's most important food crops.

Today, the Netherlands, despite its modest size, ranks among the world's top 10 potato producers. While potato production is declining in most other European countries, the Dutch currently still use almost 25 percent of their arable land to plant potatoes, and are world leaders in the seed potato trade.

But the overall success of a sector is not simply the quantity of raw materials that it manages to produce. Excellent economic performance requires all partners in a supply chain to be present, and especially to be willing to work together.

As a consequence Netherlands is not only big in growing potatoes. Or in breeding new varieties. Or in storing the products. Or in processing them. The success of the potato sector is also supported by the clever people that build the smart equipment needed to process potatoes.

Well, let's look around us, here, at Kiremko, a potato engineering company at its finest. Kiremko designs, manufactures and installs complete processing lines. From seed to product sale. This makes Kiremko a typical example of a company in the Dutch agricultural sector, a sector with a 'strong chain approach'.

Kiremko has it's own strong chain approach, with a chain of offices acround the globe: in Russia, Ukraine, India, and China, and with dedicated agents elsewhere. It was certainly not a coincidence that I met the director of Kiremko, Paul Oosterlaken, during a trade mission with our Prime Minister in India.

I think Kiremko’s excellent international reputation is largely due to the company’s culture. Innovation and improvements are in the DNA of this company and its employees. For example, you developed the Piston pump and the PeelGuard. These machines improve the overall yield of the potato. The PeelGuard detects residual potato peel and black spots and removes them effectively.  And whatever is removed, can then be used as animal feed. What previously would have been discarded as waste, is now converted into a product that can be sold.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is very keen on such innovations in processing. It gives the sector and our economy a worldwide competitive advantage.

And maybe even more important, dedication to innovation is necessary, for the future. We will be facing great global challenges in the coming years and decades. A growing world population asking for more produce, the earth asking for less environmental impact, and farmers asking for a fair price. So food needs to be nutritious, healthy, and sustainable.

The Dutch government takes these global challenges as a starting point for its innovation policy. By considering innovation first and foremost as the answer to global challenges, we open the door to collaboration. It enables government, knowledge institutes and companies to work together in finding solutions. Global challenges, dutch solutions

When it comes to the goobal challenge of feeding the world, the Dutch answer – our Dutch innovation – is: sustainable agriculture, using modern technology.

As I mentioned earlier, the Dutch agricultural sector has a strong chain approach. That means that we handle every step of the value chain with great care, in a sustainable and transparent manner. This reduces waste and increases quality. The strong chain approach can be tailored to other countries, to fit local needs.

An example of this is Solynta’s hybrid potato seed. It is one of our National Icons, the name we gave to a number of innovations which potentially have a huge impact on solving global challenges. Solynta engineered a potato seed 25 gram of these seeds can replace 2500 kg of bulky seed potatoes. This has enormous logistic benefits. On top of that, it produces a potatoe with higher yields and better quality.

This seed is an example of one step in the chain. We need innovations in the entire chain, like precision farming, which increases crop yields, and smart logistics. And we need innovative solutions further in the value chain. Like here, at Kiremko, in food processing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Society is slowly becoming aware of what it takes to produce our daily food. Consumers are becoming ever more interested in how food is produced. But still, when they are enjoying their French fries and potato chips, not many will be aware of the knowledge and innovation that was required to produce and process that food. The variety of breeding, the farming, the storage and the processing.

Kiremko is recognised as a key player in the field of potato processing equipment. The innovation introduced by the company in the past decades has resulted in its leading role in the world.

And the presence, here today, of so many international visitors reflects Kiremko’s strong commitment to the success of their client base. And in turn, the experience and feedback of these clients is just as essential for Kiremko to maintain the pace of innovation in its business. Collaboration and innovation go hand in hand.

I want to congratulate the company, its management, and employees for your dedication to collaboration and innovation.

This new factory is a jewel in the crown of Dutch food processing. It’s a perfect illustration of how the Netherlands can be involved in food production worldwide, playing a leading role in all parts of the value chain.

People all around the world should know that the Netherlands is not only a country filled with flower bulbs and cows and world-class potatoes, but also a country of modern innovative technology. So that they know the origin of the fresh and fried potatoes they enjoy every day. Potatoes grown from dutch potato seed and processed in Kiremko's innovative equipment.

Thank you.