"Germany is actually a pretty difficult country. Too small to fly, but too big to drive, as we say down here," laughs Lodewijk Wardenburg of the Bom Group. He should know: In recent years Bom has been active in Germany, setting up several projects in succession. During the Dutch horticulture mission to southern Germany, the sales manager spoke about the latest developments in the country.
Ton Versteeg and Lodewijk Wardenburg
For the past five years, greenhouse builder Bom Group has been unusually active in the German market. In particular, its Twinlight substructures have been making headway in the country. The company now has outfitted three major projects. In 2013, following a large venture, the group was hired to outfit 12 hectares for Munich giant Gemüsebau Steiner, as well as updating a large greenhouse for Bio Gemüβe in Münster. Both these companies grow organic crops.
Gemüsebau Steiner, 12 hectares
How come Bom is doing such good business in the German organic sector? According to Wardenburg, it’s not so much a conscious choice but rather a consequence of demand. When the first project was a success, the rest followed. Success in the German market also lies in the fact that the German grower depends more on the greenhouse builder than the Dutch grower, at least in terms of know-how and technology. Above all, German growers adhere to quality. "Germans are happy with advice and don’t mind the price so much," says Wardenburg. "In addition, we represent a partner that handles everything - nursery, screening and heating, the Steiner project being a good example. The conditions were harsh, but we were still able to build quickly. That was only possible because we have everything in-house.”
According to Wardenburg, there are opportunities for new projects. In Germany, only 10% of the greenhouse vegetables consumed is produced domestically, and scaling plays a considerable role. "There is an increasing amount of scaling going on there. The smaller operations tend to disappear, as they did in the Netherlands 10, 20 years ago."
Project Westhof Bio-Gewächshaus
Outside Germany, there are still markets to tap into. Wardenburg is currently considering Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. "Switzerland is a country that we need to explore, even though it’s a difficult market to break into. Then there is size. Unlike in the Netherlands, these places are mostly about small-scale operations. For the Czech Republic and Poland, you shouldn’t think in large numbers.”
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