Colruyt Group wants to help consolidate the Belgian organic range by purchasing organic land
Retail group investing in Het Zilverleen: 25 hectares of organic agricultural land in Alveringem
Halle, 21 August 2018 – Colruyt Group has reached an agreement with organic farm Het Zilverleen in Alveringem (West Flanders) to purchase 25 hectares of organic land. The retailer intends this investment to help safeguard the Belgian, local production of organic vegetables - and its own provisioning of these vegetables – in order to offer an answer to the increasing demand of the customers. This decision also aligns with Colruyt Group's ambition to create new, sustainable collaboration models and partnerships in the farming and agrifood sector. As a result, Colruyt Group is now looking for a passionate organic farmer with experience of working in an (organic) farming business; ideally an experienced couple and/or specialist who can continue the work at Het Zilverleen, on an independent base, based on transparent collaboration agreements.
The owners of Het Zilverleen, Marleen Masson and Jean-Pierre Mouton, were already important suppliers of Colruyt Group, with Colruyt Lowest Prices and Bio-Planet currently selling around 70% of their organic vegetables. The couple was looking for someone to take over from them, as Jean-Pierre Mouton, former owner of Het Zilverleen explains: “Our main desire was for our work to exploit organic land to be continued. Colruyt Group’s sustainable vision of farming will ensure a strong future for this company in organic cultivation.”
Maintaining and supporting local organic cultivation in Belgium
Demand for organic products is still growing. Colruyt Group intends to use this investment to guarantee its supply of Belgian organic products and, consequently, to help to safeguard the local organic range.
In Bio-Planet, the retailer has an attractive foundation for a range of organic products. Stefan Goethaert, General Manager of Colruyt Group Fine Food and responsible for Colruyt Group’s agricultural strategy, explains: “Het Zilverleen is a unique opportunity, with 25 hectares of adjacent organic agricultural land. That is the perfect starting point for cultivating a rich variety of organic vegetables. By investing here, we can help to ensure that this land will continue to be used for organic cultivation”.
New, sustainable collaboration models in the agrifood sector
As well as safeguarding this sustainable Belgian organic offering, this initiative also aligns with Colruyt Group's ambition to create new, sustainable collaboration models and partnerships in the farming and agrifood sector.
Colruyt Group is no novice here: the retailer has already partnered directly with other parties in the past to develop new varieties of apple. It is currently also running a Belgian potato project in close cooperation with Colruyt Lowest Prices store format, where nine growers are planting potatoes for a total gross harvest of 5,000 tonnes. These are being sold in 78 Colruyt stores under two own brand labels. Transparency, trust and value-driven entrepreneurship are vital to develop this kind of sustainable collaboration.
Goethaert adds: “We are open to new forms of collaboration along the chain; adding multiple links as necessary, working more directly with producers where possible. For us, this aligns with our desire for sustainable entrepreneurship, including in and with the agrifood sector. Het Zilverleen is a practical example of a 'learning partnership’ and demonstrates our ongoing desire to play our part in helping to increase the sustainability of the agrifood sector.”
Colruyt Group seeking ‘passionate organic farmer’
Although Colruyt Group is buying the land, it doesn’t intend to move into farming or to take on new employees. The intention is to find an independent operator; obviously based on transparent collaboration agreements.
“Initially, we are looking for an individual, or a couple, with a background in or experience of (organic) farming, who are also familiar with the principle and – above all – the reality of organic farming and everything it entails. Passion and desire to get involved are essential. We want people who are prepared to work closely with Colruyt Group and who can identify with our mission and values”, says Goethaert. “If you are interested in sitting down with us to discuss this, then get in touch with us via email@example.com.”
About Colruyt Group
Colruyt Group operates in the food and non-food distribution sector in Belgium, France and Luxembourg with approximately 550 own stores and over 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium this includes Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby and the affiliated stores Spar and Spar Compact. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated Coccinelle, CocciMarket and Panier Sympa stores. The group is also actively involved in the foodservice business (supply of food products to hospitals, company canteens and catering businesses) in Belgium (Solucious). The other activities comprise the sale of fuel in Belgium (DATS 24), printing and document management solutions (Symeta) and the production of green energy. The group employs over 29.300 employees and recorded a EUR 9,0 billion revenue in 2017/18. Colruyt is listed on NYSE Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN code BE0974256852.