Sustainable methods are at the forefront of Hoogstraten strawberry production

10 January, 22

Minimising negative effects on the local community and environment in general, is a priority for Hoogstraten.

The cooperative based near Antwerp, in Belgium continuously works according to sustainable methods and stimulates sustainable entrepreneurship amongst their growers. Examples of methods adopted by growers include bee pollination and using environmentally friendly biologicals to control harmful insects. It is the role of Hoogstraten to support all members with targeted advice about the use of natural resources and CO2 reductions, amongst many other topics.

“We rely on nature to help us produce our delicious strawberries, so taking care of nature and our environment is a given. Without bees and pollination there will be no strawberries”, says
Synnøve Johansson, Business Development Manager at Hoogstraten.

The cooperative itself also plays a vital role in ensuring sustainable production is adhered to at the office and is constantly looking at innovative ways to evolve practices. Their new office building is energy efficient and with automated heating and lighting, among other things. Rainwater is collected both on-site and at growers’ facilities. The water is then recycled, and growers utilise this supply for irrigation in the greenhouses. Solar panels on the roofs of the cooperative produce green energy, which is mainly used for cooling the strawberries.

Research is a big part of a more sustainable production and at Proefcentrum (Research Centre Hoogstraten) one of the current projects is specifically looking at the collection, decontamination, and reuse of rainwater from the trayfields used during the production of strawberry plants.
Johansson, said: “Water management is another crucial aspect of sustainability, and a priority from a production point of view. The plants require high quality water to produce our Hoogstraten strawberries”.

• The UK promotional campaign is run by Coöperatie Hoogstraten.

• Hoogstraten is the cooperative specialising in fruits, with a passion for quality.

• The main strawberry varieties grown by Hoogstraten are:
– Elsanta: Red and tasty, accounts for most of the strawberries marketed by Hoogstraten
– Sonata: Fresh red, round and sweet. Perfect for enlightened crop in winter and very successful in spring.
– Sonsation: Sweet with an intensive gloss. Looks like Sonata, but the red colour appears to be more intense.
– Limalexia: Fruits with a pleasant texture and excellent taste. Looks like Elsanta, but the fruit size throughout the growing season is better maintained.
– Murano: Everbearer with appearance of a June bearer.

• All strawberries sold at Hoogstraten are grown locally in Belgium, or just across the border in the south Netherlands.

• Strawberries account for approximately 50% of Hoogstraten’s turnover.

• Every year approximately one third of the strawberry volumes are sold domestically, while two thirds are exported, to the UK and other markets. From September through to mid-December around 80% of Hoogstraten’s volumes are exported.

• The UK marketing campaign for Hoogstraten strawberries began in September 2021.

• Scandinavia, UK and France are the largest export market for Belgian strawberries, due to the market favouring fresh products.

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