As part of the Dutch breeding company’s centenary celebrations, it has been granted the honorary royal title ‘Koninklijk’

Rijk Zwaan celebrates 100 years

Rijk Zwaan celebrates 100 years

International fruit and vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan is kicking off its centenary celebrations today (1 July), exactly 100 years after its formation in 1924.

As part of the Netherlands-based company’s festivities, the King’s Commissioner announced that Rijk Zwaan had been granted the Dutch honorary royal title ‘Koninklijk’.

“After 100 years of entrepreneurship and innovation, one can say that Rijk Zwaan is of great importance for the future of humanity,” said Jaap Smit, the King’s Commissioner, during the festive kick-off of the breeding company’s Centenary Celebration.

Ben Tax, one of Rijk Zwaan’s board members, commented: “We are delighted to receive this title. It is a symbol of societal appreciation and underlines the longevity of our company. This is the ultimate recognition of the efforts of everyone involved. Because, above all, people are the heart and soul of Rijk Zwaan.

The company began when founder Rijk Zwaan opened a seed shop in Rotterdam in 1924, with his focus on quality and innovation proving to be a recipe for success.

For the first four decades, the emphasis was on the horticultural market in the Netherlands, but exports to neighbouring countries gradually increased.

In 1964, the first subsidiary was opened in Germany, and this was followed by Rijk Zwaan France in 1982 before rapid expansion from the 1990s onwards.

Today, Rijk Zwaan employs 4,000 people. The company is represented in over 100 countries through more than 30 subsidiaries across the globe, with its head office in the Netherlands.

”Due to the growing world population, especially in Africa and Asia, the demand for fruits and vegetables will continue to rise,” the group stated. “Rijk Zwaan is staying ahead of this trend by developing fruit and vegetable varieties that are adapted to local climates, cultivation methods and consumer preferences.”

In Tanzania, for example, the company has been breeding specifically for the African market for 15 years, and is now also increasingly focusing on the southeast Asian market from its facility in Vietnam.

“By breeding improved local varieties, we aim to offer growers opportunities to obtain higher yields,” explained board member Marco van Leeuwen.

”Then, to boost their sales, we connect them with processing companies and retailers. Ultimately, this gives more people access to fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables. Seeds are not only the starting point for successful crops, but also for broader opportunities and possibilities.”

Rijk Zwaan said that, every day, millions of people ate fruits and vegetables grown from Rijk Zwaan’s seeds.

That responsibility, it said, inspired the company to focus on the future and continue innovating for its customers and value chain partners.

“Recently, we’ve expanded into breeding tropical crops. At our breeding facility in Brazil, we select fruit and vegetable varieties that thrive in a hot and humid climate with the occasional heavy rain shower,” says board member Kees Reinink.

Additionally, earlier this year, Rijk Zwaan opened a new breeding facility in the Netherlands for berries, including strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

“That’s another example of how we continue pioneering and breaking new ground,” noted Reinink.

Rijk Zwaan said that the motto of ‘moving forward’ was firmly embedded in its DNA.

”With its focus on innovation and progress, the company will continue to pursue a pioneering approach,” it stated.

”The board members are grateful to all employees, customers and value chain partners for their contribution to the success so far, and are looking forward to many more fruitful years of collaboration and growth in the coming century.”