Friday, April 15, 2022
As part of the International Day of Peasants' Struggle, various pressure groups and non-governmental organisations have called for a symbolic action on Friday, April 15. The action will take place in Halle, near our headquarters and distribution center Dassenveld.
We cannot help but regret this call to action. We find it difficult to understand why this is happening to us: Colruyt Group is one of the main customers of Belgian farmers. Products from nearly 6,000 Belgian farms can be found on our shelves. We are a partner of the agricultural sector and therefore have common interests, where it is necessary to combine expertise: to ensure the availability of Belgian products at all times and to stimulate the consumption of these products. At Colruyt Group, we have always given preference to Belgian products.
In recent years, we have taken various initiatives to bring producers and consumers closer together.
We have direct partnerships with no less than 600 small and large agricultural companies. We set up collaborations with the aim of stimulating, preserving and perpetuating a Belgian supply, by combining Belgian expertise to meet consumer expectations. We work with potato growers to improve the quality of the potatoes and to extend the Belgian potato season. We set up a partnership with cattle breeders through three Belgian producer organisations. We participate in production chains for organic pork and organic baking wheat, both 100% Belgian. We innovate together with fruit growers and local producers of organic soy. And we set up projects to guarantee stable prices for farmers, such as for milk.
At Colruyt Group, we have a portfolio of complementary store formats. This allows us to also market products from smaller producers, for example at Bio-Planet, Cru or the Spar Colruyt Group stores. In this way, the share of Belgian agricultural products in our assortment is constantly growing.
Leverage to anchor Belgian production
The purchase of agricultural land by Agripartners NV is also an example of a cooperation model. As a Belgian player, we want to offer, secure and literally anchor the products as much as possible in Belgium, locally. Therefore, investing in agricultural land is a logical next step for us. Together with farmers, we can focus even more on high-quality Belgian products and guarantee the supply to the consumer.
An important point for us is that we work with independent farmers. It is a win-win situation, because the farmers we work with within Agripartners can generate additional income without having to make major investments themselves. We want to work with farmers on initiatives that contribute to sustainability and innovation of agricultural land and cultivation: a healthier soil, sustainable cultivation concepts and innovative crops. Within our collaborations, the expertise, experience and input of the farmer is crucial.
We believe this cooperation model is an important lever to align supply and demand even more than today, in order to meet the needs of consumers. This by working together and combining our expertise to provide a local offer, organic where relevant. We emphasize that one of our main commitments is: agricultural land remains agricultural land.
We also wish to emphasize that the number of hectares at issue today is far too small to have any impact on land prices. We would like to reassure everyone involved that there is no aggressive prospecting going on. Moreover, we have years of expertise in the acquisition of real estate and land. Therefore, we cannot be seen as the one who is causing the price of land in our country to rise.
The crises we are currently going through, be it is the corona crisis or the war in Ukraine, should encourage us to work together even more, in a sustainable way and according to everyone's expertise. We therefore remain open to dialogue and will continue to focus on cooperation with the many constructive partners in the agricultural sector in the future. We will also continue to support the sector, in good and bad times, as we have always done.
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