by Roger Engelberts

Money goes where the value flows

Roger Engelberts - I want to tell you a story about my hero. His name is Wimke de Körver. It’s a unique story behind the Protein and Poultry Valley called Land van Cuijk. And it begins on the poverty region’s sandy soils that provide the perfect ground on which to establish global innovation in creating value from animal protein. Wimke de Körver, his real name was Wim Hendrix, was looking for prosperity and wellbeing. He looked further than others had done, and was not afraid to look at the world from a different perspective. “The money’s there for the taking. Look at the streets. Pick up the horse manure, package it, give it value, and sell it as garden fertiliser.” Right now on the world’s most famous poultry exhibition in Atlanta, people even know better where Boxmeer and Land van Cuijk is positioned than Amsterdam!

Protein and Poultry Valley
Wimke started with feed for chickens. Wimke is the founder of todays Nutreco. Feed for human food. But he knew poultry and chicken may not be sick... because ,,Sick chickens don’t eat feed.” That’s why he started the vaccine company Intervet MSD. And his legacy includes besides Nutreco and Intervet MSD, also Marel Poultry, Hendrix Genetics and Teeuwissen Group (Saria). This ‘pearl necklace’ of companies has given our region an enormous economic impulse. Right now the total turnover of these companies worldwide is about 10 bilion euro and the total amount of labour is about 15.000 people working there. His sons sold the global company in 1969 for 1 bilion guilder.

And if we return to present day, we see it happening again: Protein and Poultry Valley. This is clearly an innovation initiative with vision, as the growing global population is only going to lead to increased consumption of proteins. Land van Cuijk, Protein and Poultry Valley can benefit from this development. Still societal challenges are the mirror for innovation in food.

The ideal African chicken
One company of the legacy of Wimke the Körver is Hendrix Genetics. A leading company in genes and breeding poultry. From all the eggs worldwide 1 out of two or three (!) has the DNA-roots in Land van Cuijk. Hendrix Genetics right now is breeding a robust chicken for the African market. It’s called double purpose: one chicken for meat AND for egg production. Last year the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation added 9 milion dollar for inventing the ideal African chicken to make the world a little bit better: an egg a day keeps the doctor away.

The 4 F's
Wimke was keen on biocascading. Bio what? I will explain: Money goes where the value flows. This is what we call bio-cascading: you first get the most out added value (i.e. profit) from the highest point in the value chain: For example, if you’re growing corn: first, you harvest the most important ingredients, the  highest added value for Farma; what remains is turned into Food, then Feed, then Fibres, and then finally, Fuel. If you start with the highest added value, Farma, you can then cascade down to lower added value, and with increasing volumes: Farma - Food – Feed – Fibres - Fuel. It’s F-value thinking also placed in groups:

  • ​Farma (Fragrances, Flavours, Flowers, grouped under ‘Health’)
  • Food (Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Food crops, Fodder, grouped under ‘Nutrition’)
  • Feed / Fibres (Functional molecules, Fermentation products, Fibres, grouped under ‘Chemicals and Materials’)
  • Fuel (grouped under ‘Energy’)

Only then do you get the most out of raw materials. For the first group, you only need a few square meters. For the last one, you need several hectares. It’s simple: bio-cascading enables you to get more added value out of fewer square meters. Go and play with the F’s. This will allow us to take centre stage internationally – just like Max Verstappen in Formula 1: celebrate using the Dutch human protein chain as a guide and as an example to the world! Yes, we’re looking for the new Wimke de Korvers.

Let me resume: The high five for Land van Cuijk
Thumb – top > the pole position for Land van Cuijk is TOP.

  • ​Agrifood is the engine for the local economy
  • Every player within the chain is here: from farm to fork; from cowshed to supermarket shelf. Over 1,500 companies with more than 15.000 jobs
  • The Big Six: Nutreco, Hendrix Genetics, MSD Intervet, Marel Stork, Danone and Teeuwissen Group (Saria). A combined turnover of more than 10 billion euros
  • Land van Cuijk in the southern Dutch region of North-East Brabant is a global leader in agrifood: No less than 20% of the 130 billion euro of added value from agrifood is generated here!

Index finger > direction

Globally, there are 1.2 billion obese people. Compare this with the 800.000  people who go to bed every day starving from hunger. This situation demands innovation and a new way of thinking. Turning societal problems into possibilities. The agrifood chain plays a pivotal role here: consider healthy food (healthy people - healthy animals), sustainable energy, transparent chains, excellent health care. These are all golden opportunities for Land van Cuijk and AgriFood Capital.

Middle finger > what we want to get rid of

  • Innovation demands that we get rid of our ‘silo culture’ and create new crossovers. And farmers need to run their businesses with greater consideration for the environment, and demonstrate more empathy. 
  • Food may and cannot be cheaper, more efficient and faster. We are on a dead-end road of upscaling and cost reduction. It’s a race to the bottom. As an entrepreneur, I am more interested in increasing profits. Are you supplying raw materials for energy, or energy for a better quality of life? We need to transition from operational excellence to product innovation.
  • Think differently. The farmer is a food producer. Think in terms of consumption; not production. Look beyond your own gate to the environment around you. Engage in dialogue. Work on solutions together.

The ring finger > what we are faithful to

We need to be faithful to our roots. To our DNA and agrifood. Authentic. Entrepreneurial drive, like Wimke de Körver, combined with a genuine work ethic. We need to be faithful to Wimke de Körver.

The little finger > a few little things I’d like to mention

Family businesses are the cornerstone of the local and the regional economy. It’s all about traditional skills, new connections and confidence. Family business are the foundation of progress, even more so than the Big Five.

The family business is the accelerator of the region’s growth. You achieve growth by searching for answers to society’s questions about food, health and pharmaceutics

  • We are in the middle of a change in time. Encourage and invest in new heroes as entrepreneurs. Develop strength. I believe in AgriFood Land van Cuijk. I believe that, in 2030, we will be the Smartest & Healthiest Agrifood Region in the World.
  • Do what Wimke de Körver did. Stop talking about it; make a start. This is about applied knowledge. For Land van Cuijk, it’s now about ‘doing’ and no longer ‘thinking about it’. This is why I’m calling on you, 70 Rabobank Trainees: Invest in youth. It will cost money, but failing to invest will cost much, much more. We need to act. Join the club, give us the space and the capacity to run this race!

In Land van Cuijk we already have different societal initiatives to find the next Wimkes. Young Talent Group SmaakCentrum, Otherwyse en Techno promo all actively working on this. Rabobank Land van Cuijk en Maasduinen stimulates and supports them, I’m proud of that. 

Keynote from Roger Engelberts, entrepreneur behind Imagro and Professor co-creative entrepreneurship HAS University of Applied Science in order of Rabobank Land van Cuijk & Maasduinen during the visit of 70 international Rabobank Trainees at Land van Cuijk.
RabobankMarel Poultry - Maasheggen Unesco HeritageVeerhuis Oefelt 

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