The Fruit Farm Group (TFFG), the producer-exporter created by the shareholders of Belgian multinational Univeg back in 2014, has acquired AC Hartman, the Netherlands’ largest organic vegetable producer and a leading supplier of glasshouse-grown produce to customers including Albert Heijn and Bakker Barendrecht.
The takeover, which was signed off for an undisclosed fee by AC Hartman owner Wim Hartman and Hein Deprez, a major shareholder in TFFG's parent company as well as being executive chairman and the largest shareholder of fresh produce giant Greenyard Foods, will enable the company to expand beyond its current 30 per cent market share.
The company currently supplies organically grown cucumbers, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes across a total of 72ha, but with plans already in place to extend that area to 110ha, it is on course to become one of the Netherlands’ biggest glasshouse horticulture companies.
Following the deal, TFFG will also undertake to make AC Hartman’s operations more sustainable, for example by making use of geothermal energy, the companies said in a statement.
Demand for sustainable, organic greenhouse vegetables is growing sharply, they added. To that end, with as much as possible of AC Hartman’s existing acreage being converted to organic land, an agreement has also been reached to work with local initiative the Waddenglas project to develop an additional 50ha of farmland.
Rob Bal, chief executive of AC Hartman, said he welcomed the takeover. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to start a new chapter in the life's work of Wim Hartman, the driving force behind AC Hartman.”
He added: “Wim has always maintained a good business and personal relationship with Hein Deprez because he feels very strongly about the environment, health, sustainability and human values. The takeover… is a rational step and gives AC Hartman a fantastic opportunity to continue to grow and invest in innovative production methods for organic vegetables.”
Deprez said he was also looking forward to the ongoing development. “Making use of terrestrial heat and purchasing extra land from the Waddenglas project offers AC Hartman continuity and extra jobs,” he commented. “With a thirty per cent market share, AC Hartman is already the Netherlands' biggest organic vegetable grower, but this will make it one of the three biggest Dutch glasshouse horticulture companies.”