Start a Business in the Agriculture and Food Sector of the Netherlands

The Netherlands is among the leading exporters of food and agricultural products worldwide due to its innovations in agri-food technology. The sector offers a reliable source of safe and healthy food produced using nature- and environment-friendly methods.

In case you are in interested in establishing a business in the agriculture and food sector of the Netherlands, please contact our agents specialised in company formation. They will provide you with legal advice and additional information on how to set up a Dutch company.

Delivering healthy food from sustainable sources

The rapid global urbanization and the migration of people from rural areas to the big cities lead to an increasing demand for healthy and sustainable food supplies in the urban zones. The security of food is paramount to social wellbeing and economic performance. The search is on for solutions regarding food safety, animal welfare, habitation and waste-disposal, as well as education, governance and social fairness. The Netherlands is located in a relatively small delta region with low elevation, where the land is a precious resource. This is one of the reasons why the local farms are among the most efficient, sustainable and intensive worldwide.

Due to the fertile soil, high produce quality, intensive farming, trading expertise and extensive knowledge in agriculture, the Netherlands exports food products on a global scale. This covers products of both plant and animal origin, i.e. poultry (meat), eggs and livestock. Other key export items are automated food processing machines such as pickers for soft fruit, meat separators and equipment for potato processing, as well as knowledge on food processing. Twelve of forty leading companies producing foods and drinks have Research and Development centres in the country.

Five reasons to choose the Netherlands for your business in the food and agriculture industry

1. The country is a world leader in innovation and export of foods and agricultural products

After the United States, Holland is second in export of agricultural products in the world. It falls in the global Top 3 of fruit and vegetable producers, along with the US and Spain, supplying 25% of all vegetables for export from the European continent. The Dutch sector of agriculture is diverse and covers a variety of plant cultivation and animal husbandry subsectors, including field and greenhouse cultivation, fruit-growing, pig and dairy farming.

The Netherlands sees things in perspective. This is evident from the world-famous innovation and research infrastructure in the country. The University of Wageningen was rated first among agricultural universities worldwide for three consecutive years in the Taiwan Ranking that includes 300+ universities dealing with scientific research. Of the leading twenty-six companies in the sector of agriculture and food, five have Research and Development facilities based in the country. Here are some examples of investments made by private companies:

  • a new Research and Development centre of Danone in Utrecht concentrating the European research of the company on children nutrition and clinical nutrition;
  • a new European Research and Development centre of Heinz in Nijmegen;
  • a new Research and Development centre of Royal FrieslandCampina in Wageningen;

2. The Netherlands has a mild climate, fertile soils, flat terrain and favourable location in the centre of the European continent

Next to its excellent geographic characteristics, the country has extremely well-developed infrastructure, logistics, food processing branch and commerce.

3. Successful renewal of the chains of agri-food production

For many years the agriculture in the Netherlands has maintained its leading position in the international competition through active investment aimed to renew the chains of agricultural production. Growers and farmers are eligible partners in this chain. Their main goal is to supply food and plants (including ornamentals) with the best possible value for money using sustainable, innovative and socially responsible methods.

4. The Netherlands supports the Global Food Security Alliance

It has been estimated that by 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion. If the current levels of food production remain unchanged, there will be a 70% shortage. The Alliance plans to solve this problem by using a Dutch approach based on climate-smart systems in agriculture. It intends to intensify and expand small-scale projects of fishermen, small farmers and horticultural growers and to maintain a high level of food safety by focusing on beneficial private-public partnerships.

5. Environmentally friendly and sustainable agriculture

Regardless of the tight margins of profit, the agricultural business invests significant resources in protection of the environment and implements improvements regarding animal welfare. While the agricultural business is a main engine of the national economy, it carries certain risks for the environment. During the past decades, agriculture has shown a trend of increasing scale and intensity of production, leading to a growing impact of manure and fertilizers in non-urban areas. Farming needs to be more sustainable. Currently, the agricultural sector in the Netherlands is directed towards sustainability in order to provide safe and healthy food, produced with care for the environment and the landscape.

Read here to explore the Dutch horticulture industry.


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