Visit from Netherlands agribusiness delegation served global purpose

Representatives from Netherlands-based agribusinesses had lunch at Windmill Island Gardens Tuesday, June 2, 2015, with local civic and business leaders.

A delegation of more than 50 people from the Netherlands toured the Holland area Tuesday, June 2, in conjunction with the visit from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.

While the royals toured Grand Rapids, representatives from several agriculturally-based businesses in the Netherlands visited agriculturally-based businesses in West Michigan. The goal was to connect the businesses.

“It would be great if we could connect local to global,” said Stefan Baecke, CEO of Yespers New Nature in The Hague. His relatively new company makes spreads, but because those spreads are fresh without sugars and other preservatives, they cannot be made in the Netherlands and distributed globally.

He and Patrick Ooms, Head Business Development for the company, were hoping to make connections during the two week North American tour designed to introduce them to agricultural business leaders.

The tour started in Toronto and included a few other Canadian stops before heading to Detroit Sunday then West Michigan Monday and Tuesday.

While in the Holland/Zeeland area, the delegation visited Zeeland Farm Services, Mead Johnson, Coppercraft Distillery and Boar’s Head. A representative from each business got on the bus at each stop and had the opportunity to explain to the delegation what the company does.

The final Holland stop for the delegation was the Grow Holland to Holland Luncheon at Windmill Island Gardens.

“Feels like home,” Ooms said as DeZwaan came into view taking out his phone to take a picture.

Netherlands Agricultural Counselor Ton Akkerman agreed, especially after hearing a song he recognized as it played on the authentic Dutch street organ housed at the park.

Watch the Holland Sentinel online and in the business section of the Sunday, June 7, for a more in depth look at the delegation’s purpose and why it met with the businesses it did.


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