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Navigating global challenges: Royal HZPC Group matches previous year’s success and prepares for leadership change

In the dynamic and challenging landscape of potato breeding, Royal HZPC Group has managed to navigate the tumultuous 2023 crop year with resilience and strategic foresight. Despite facing lower yields per hectare of seed potatoes in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, the company projects to match its previous year’s financial performance for 2023/2024 (July – June).

The late, wet spring followed by warm, dry months significantly impacted European potato yields. However, Royal HZPC Group adapted by selling fewer tons from Europe and compensating with sales of top seed sizes, often used as seed potatoes. This approach required exceptional permissions in non-EU countries, which were granted this year, highlighting the company’s adaptability in a complex global market.

Outside Europe, the story is different. Higher than average yields have contributed to solid growth for Royal HZPC Group. CEO Gerard Backx shared, “We anticipate a 3% increase in total tonnage sold or sold by licensees, counterbalancing the 10% decline in direct sales from Europe. This includes additional sales of top seed sizes.” Growth is particularly notable in the Americas and Asia, where tonnage grown under Royal HZPC Group’s license has surged by 25%.

Financially, the company expects to maintain a turnover of approximately €420 million, with a consistent gross margin of €71 million and normal operating costs. However, potential provisions for difficult-to-collect debts in politically unstable regions introduce an element of uncertainty to the final results. The net result is estimated to be between €5 million and €7 million, excluding costs associated with the Connecting Growers program.

Hans Huistra

A significant change is on the horizon for Royal HZPC Group as Gerard Backx prepares to step down as CEO. Having led the company since 2001 with dedication and passion, Backx will pass the baton to Hans Huistra on September 1, 2024.

Huistra, born in Joure in 1968 and currently the COO of Meatable, brings over three decades of leadership experience from prominent companies like Unilever, Friesland Campina, Hero, and Fonterra.

Hans Huistra’s extensive global experience and deep understanding of the agricultural and food sectors make him an ideal successor. Huistra’s tenure will commence with the guidance and support of Backx, ensuring a smooth transition and continued growth for Royal HZPC Group.

As the company navigates these changes and challenges, it remains committed to its mission of innovative and sustainable potato breeding, ensuring it remains a key player in the global potato industry sector.

Source: Royal HZPC Group news release
Cover image: Gerard Backx

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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