FoodVentures: a pioneer in international greenhouse operations

  • February 28, 2024

Niels Honders, project manager and responsible for all grower data at FoodVentures, provides us with a glimpse into the company's unique approach and focus on operating greenhouses abroad. Alongside senior grower Marty Pieterse, Niels is dedicated to collecting and analyzing data with the goal of making greenhouse operations more efficient.

FoodVentures' unique approach

Niels, with a background as a project manager and upbringing in horticulture, shares his deep involvement with FoodVentures. His experiences range from construction guidance to supporting technical and operational teams, covering various aspects of the company. Operating in countries such as Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Sweden, China, and the United States, FoodVentures distinguishes itself by focusing on foreign growers. Niels emphasizes, "Ideally, we aim to take full responsibility for the operation, involving not only cultivation but also hiring personnel and, in some cases, even managing the sale of products." With a diverse international team, varying in nationality and expertise, FoodVentures navigates through complex challenges in different projects. The focus is on managing the profit & loss operations of greenhouses, resulting in an impressive oversight of 190 hectares over time.

The role of data at FoodVentures

Niels highlights the crucial role of data in FoodVentures' workflow. With local teams facing diverse challenges abroad, the goal of using data is to make on-site personnel more efficient. Niels explains, "We aim to make a grower twice as efficient with data. Our belief is not to replace a grower; while that might be possible in the Netherlands in the coming years, it requires much more in foreign countries to make a greenhouse operationally successful. Hence, the need for human knowledge and skills always remains."

We aim to make a grower twice as efficient with data.

Niels Honders, project manager

Strategy Manager: a new step

FoodVentures is currently implementing the Strategy Manager from LetsGrow.com. Niels and Marty see the opportunity to work more efficiently and strive for a more standardized approach. They believe that this new solution will assist them in creating cultivation plans, tracking achievements, and providing better support to remote growers. The expectation is that using the Strategy Manager will significantly reduce time compared to traditional methods. Marty adds, "An important addition is that when Niels and I input the data, everything runs smoothly. However, if others do it in Excel, issues may arise. By using the Strategy Manager, we ultimately aim for a tool that can be used by almost everyone. That way, we only need to verify."

By using the Strategy Manager, we ultimately aim for a tool that can be used by almost everyone. That way, we only need to verify.

Marty Pieterse, senior grower

Plant Empowerment and LetsGrow.com

Marty shares his enthusiasm for Plant Empowerment, a concept adopted by FoodVentures to understand how plants can be optimally grown. It enables them to better explain and understand plant principles, particularly useful when working with growers who may not be as technically inclined. The use of LetsGrow.com as a data platform is crucial to implementing Plant Empowerment in practice.

FoodVentures x LetsGrow.com

FoodVentures has been a customer of LetsGrow.com since 2019, and the collaboration is viewed positively. The platform provides standardization in data collection, allowing the company to conduct cultivation assessments uniformly from a distance. The flexibility and the ability to collaborate on improvements make LetsGrow.com a valuable partner for FoodVentures. Marty concludes, "At this moment, the knowledge behind it, coupled with the opportunities it offers and the current flexibility, is of the highest level. Especially the expertise gained through various trials and dedication to Plant Empowerment makes this exceptionally valuable in my eyes."

At this moment, the knowledge behind LetsGrow.com, coupled with the opportunities it offers and the current flexibility, is of the highest level.

Marty Pieterse, senior grower

Future steps and challenges

FoodVentures is looking ahead with the ambition to better use the predictive capability within the platform and thus deploy the Decision Support solution plan more effectively. In doing so, they want to further develop the use of climate and irrigation decision support to address problems even faster and in a more targeted way. The focus is on making the process more efficient to quickly create crop plans, even at new locations where historical data is lacking.

In the eyes of FoodVentures, LetsGrow.com is not just a data platform but also a critical partner challenging and supporting them in the pursuit of optimization and growth in the international horticulture sector.

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