Current facts and figures and the latest research results from Wageningen Economic Research about agriculture, market gardening and fisheries in the Netherlands can be found on agrimatie.nl. Interactive graphs and maps give a clear picture of information about e.g. prices, sustainability, the environmental impact or innovation. Visitors can also compare performance figures in various domains for different sectors such as greenhouse horticulture, dairy farming and poultry farming.
Thinking ten years ahead
For the dairy company FrieslandCampina, LEI has worked on a ten-year forecast for the milk supply from its members, dairy farmers in the cooperative of the same name. The company also wanted to know what the global market for dairy products would look like in ten years’ time. “Predictions like those are useful for orientation,” explains Ruud Krimpenfort, Dairy Market Intelligence Director at FrieslandCampina. “LEI has the scientific knowledge that is needed for assessing the models that are used throughout the world. The researchers are also able to get to their knowledge and insights across quickly and effectively. LEI has contacts with research institutes in Europe and worldwide. It is a non-partisan expertise centre that takes an objective view of the various market developments. We value that independence highly.”
Get more from the market
One of LEI’s specialist fields is market intelligence, or using data from the world outside the organisation or company itself to obtain insights. “We look to see what developments, opportunities and threats there are in the market so that companies can base their decisions on hard facts,” says Arjen Daane, programme manager at LEI. Insights into potential customers, new and conventional technologies, emerging economies and competitors let companies improve their competitive positions or focus their innovations on the future.
Business people often take decisions based on a gut feeling. A fruit grower may for instance get the idea that China could be an interesting sales market for his fruit. “Before he invests in a new variety of pear, for example, and spends money on Chinese packaging or a Chinese agent, it is a good idea to have the best possible picture of this new sales market,” explains Daane. “That provides the facts to back up the businessman’s gut instinct.”
LEI can develop early warning systems and opportunity spotting: pointing out the trends and opportunities, as well as disruptions such as e.g. trade wars, animal diseases, boycotts and the weather. “Our aim is to provide businesses and policymakers as quickly as possible with insights into the events and developments that are relevant for them,” says Daane. “If Dutch fruit traders know early on that the mango harvest in Brazil is going to fail, for instance, they will have time to look for alternatives.”
Because LEI works for both governmental authorities and the commercial sector, we are able to switch quickly for example between developing new policies and looking at the potential choices for individual companies. To give an example, we investigated the consequences of dropping the European milk quotas in 2015. We then provided support for the FrieslandCampina cooperative in their investment choices for production capacity and production locations. Daane adds, “Because we are thoroughly familiar with the policy considerations of national and international authorities, we are better able to help businesses respond.”
LEI knows the global agricultural sector inside-out and backwards. This means that we are also able to provide advice about emerging markets by looking at the infrastructure, climate, location of suitable land, reliability of the authorities and the presence of other foreign investors. We have recently studied the possibilities for growing melons in Africa for one business, for example. We have also estimated the chances of success for a development cooperation programme for shrimp farming in Burma.Our researchers work according to the latest scientific insights. Publicly available information from e.g. trade figures is linked to our own research data. Daane adds, “We know what varieties of tomatoes fit the requirements of French consumers and how that market is going to develop over the coming years. And of course what Dutch suppliers can do to maximise their benefit from it.”