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Agrifirm leads the pace of changing industry

Dick Hordijk, CEO Royal Agrifirm Group, joined the Sermo Café on site at EuroTier 2018 in Hannover, Germany, to discuss the company’s special event and future direction.

The Royal Agrifirm Group is at the forefront of change in agriculture, with a strong combination of innovation and sustainability powering the company into the future. Further high-paced advancement is anticipated over the coming months via the company’s 'Better Together' strategy for a responsible food chain for future generations.

The Netherlands-based agricultural cooperative boasts an international network of subsidiaries in 16 countries within Europe, South America and Asia, along with a worldwide distribution network.

It had a strong presence at EuroTier 2018 that included hosting a special VIP event celebration with the Agrifirm team, customers, partners and affiliates from across the world. Dick Hordijk, CEO Royal Agrifirm Group, joined the Sermo Café on site at EuroTier 2018 in Hannover, Germany, to discuss the celebration and what’s ahead for the company.

Q: Obviously this is a nice event and a nice opportunity for Agrifirm to enjoy the customers, celebrate the success What does tonight’s event mean to you?

Hordijk: If you look at the purpose of the company, we really try to make a difference. We are a cooperative in Holland and we are owned by farmers. And the vision that they have set out for us is simply ‘Let’s together build a stronger food chain.’

If you look at that vision, it requires teamwork across different areas. There is nothing you can do just in your lab, or just in sales, or in any of a great many of additional areas, that alone will bring the results needed. You need people in different areas working together toward the various objectives, and that includes your customers. And if you together believe that you can make a difference then that belief turns into action and results. The people involved realize how they can make a difference and then it starts to happen. At our VIP event you could see many great examples just looking around the room at all of the people from members of the cooperative to Agrifirm team to the customers who were all represented.  

This focus on the vision is something that we don’t take lightly. It’s very clear and very important what we need to do and we must deliver. We realize that real change is needed across the many countries we are in. In each of those markets, we look at the question of what is needed including what is society really looking for, and then we look at what is the real difference we can make by working together with our customers.

What I saw at our event was people who make that connection and who have worked together to make real progress happen. It was just outstanding with the tremendous celebration and diverse presence of the different types of people who come together to move our vision forward. They bring the energy to make change happen.

Q: It’s an exciting time of transformation. What is your view of Agrifirm as a catalyst of transformation?  

Hordijk: Yes, exactly. It’s an exciting time and change is happening. We are very enthusiastic to be part of the energy for change and to bring a vision that is helping to make real change happen.

Our role in driving change comes down to our people and the relationships they are a part of that together make a positive change across the whole chain from the farmer to the consumer. Ultimately, what we are looking is to make very good relationships with the whole chain. So not just with the farmer or the feed provider, but also for example the retailer and the consumer. To spark transformation, we need the vision for our concepts to take hold through the whole chain.

Nuscience, which is part of our Royal Agrifirm Group, is a great example of this approach and so I refer to Nuscience as a change agent.

Every market has a unique situation and so in every market we go into we start with recognizing that. With Nuscience, for example, it may be a market where regulations are changing because the government or the society wants to lower antibiotic use in the feed of the pigs, but at the same time without antibiotics there is worry about the impact on the health and welfare of the animals.

Once we know this situation that then sets the agenda. It then becomes about working with the right people – making the connections via relationships to move toward the solutions that will address the challenge. For example, with the antibiotics situation, by reaching out and working together from many angles we see that there’s not a silver bullet but rather many things that together can make a real difference. Innovative feed technology from Nuscience is a key part. That can combine with improvements in a variety of areas from genetics to farm management to make an alternative approach work very well. Working together pretty soon we see this collective focus pretty soon start to make a change that makes a real difference.

Q: The landscape of challenges and opportunities you refer to is always evolving. As you look ahead to the completion of 2018 and into the agenda for the new year and 2019, what do you believe must be the focus for Royal Agrifirm Group?  

At the overall level, the focus is continued growth at a high pace. Obviously there are many priorities that contribute to that objective. The reality in business is ultimately you need a clear and simple measurement of success and for us that is market share. When we look at what’s ahead and our goals for 2019 it’s about growth in all the major markets where we work.

This includes China, Poland, Brazil, Holland, along with many other key countries where our presence is becoming stronger. Everyone involved with our company, they really want to make a difference . . . and that means we must grow. In order to make an impact in a simple and powerful way, we need to make solutions that our customers believe in and that will make growth happen. For us 2019 is becoming a year of growing and we want to keep pushing forward.

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