At the opening, Biobest unveiled its new company structure, logo and name – BioFirst Group

Biobest Group welcomed David Clarinval, Belgium’s deputy prime-minister and Jo Brouns, Flemish minister of economy, innovation, work, social economy and agriculture to officially open its new predatory mite production facility.

Biobest BioFirst facility inauguration 2024

According to the group, the facility is the latest milestone as it looks to remain at the forefront of global sustainable crop production.

“Our €12m investment in this new state-of-the-art, 4,000m2 mite-rearing facility will greatly boost our production capabilities and house up to 50 employees,” said Biobest Group CEO Jean-Marc Vandoorne.

“Thanks to our highly skilled teams and our pioneering mass-rearing techniques for mites, this new facility stands at the forefront of biocontrol innovation. It enables us to scale up production to enhance our ability to fulfil customer demands.”

Utilising the latest technologies and innovations, Biobest said that its new production facility is run entirely on green energy and is fossil-fuel free.

It features a heat pump system, air handling units, a high-end heat exchanger to maximise energy recovery and a solar PV-installation generating 416.000 kWh per year equivalent to a reduction of CO² emissions for the entire Westerlo site by 15 per cent or 44 tonnes.

“With sustainability at the heart of everything we do, these energy efficiency gains are part of the innovative approaches we are taking to minimise the group’s carbon footprint,” said Vandoorne.

Reflecting on the current legislative landscape, he urged EU policymakers to shorten the lengthy registration processes for biopesticides.

“We are currently putting our European growers and farmers at a serious disadvantage in accessing solutions to counter increasing pest resistance to conventional pesticides,” Vandoorne outlined.

”Registration of biopesticides currently takes between six to ten years in Europe, while everywhere else in the world it takes only one to three years.”

Minister Jo Brouns added: “In a time, when Europe is being challenged on the very foundations of its cooperation, it is our responsibility to create the strategic autonomy that is needed to feed the next generations of European citizens.

”If we want to do that in a more sustainable way, which we should, then we must also give our farming sector the chance to develop and use the alternatives that are needed.”

Group changes

At the official opening, Biobest Group took the opportunity to unveil its new company structure, logo and name – BioFirst Group.

“Following our recent acquisition of Biotrop – the Brazilian leader in biopesticides, biostimulants and inoculants for open-field row crops – Biobest Group has reorganised its structure to improve its operational efficiencies and agility,” explained Vandoorne. “Rebranded as BioFirst Group, we now have a structure focusing on the horticulture market and a structure focusing on the open field market.”

In the horticulture market, Biobest and its worldwide subsidiaries will continue to focus on the development, production and sales of beneficial insects, mites and nematodes to control plant pests in greenhouse crops.

BioWorks will focus on the development, production and sales of biopesticides in horticulture crops, and Plant Products will comprise a number of one-stop shop distributors in the horticulture market.

In the open field market, Biotrop will focus on the development, production and sales of biopesticides, biostimulants and inoculants in open-field crops worldwide.

The BioFirst name is designed to capture the group’s dedication to biological solutions and innovation as well as its customer-first mindset, the group said.

”At the leading edge of sustainable crop management, the new, modern, fresh logo depicts environmentally friendly, healthy crops in fields and greenhouses using a colour palette inspired by nature,” it outlined.

“Belgium has always been fertile ground for innovative, pioneering companies like BioFirst,” said minister David Clarinval. ”With its biopesticides as an alternative to conventional pesticides, this company offers solutions for competitive, sustainable and high-quality Belgian and European agriculture.

”Our farmers need effective plant protection products to ensure sufficient food production and high yields. BioFirst therefore contributes to improving our farmers’ incomes, while preserving our ecosystem, and I’m delighted about that.”

“With our added production capabilities and new organisational structure under the BioFirst Group umbrella, we are in good shape to achieve our ambitious goal to enter the top ten of global crop protection companies, as a pure player in biological solutions in the next ten years,” Vandoorne added.