DanDutch is a Dutch-Danish company with strategic international partnerships that offers specialized horticulture solutions to improve yield. One of its largest applications is ebb and flow irrigation equipment from its Danish partner manufacturers, Staal&Plast, Danvan, and FGM. These are frequently used cultivation systems and equipment for plant production in a modern greenhouse. The company also partners with Priva, Empas, Hortimat, Alumat Zeeman, Hekatec and Besseling Techniek.
Xander van de Zande (left) together with his partners Bo Jørgensen - Danvan (middle) and Jacob Sørensen - Staal&Plast (right)
An ebb/flow system is a closed irrigation system for ornamental and young plants. The fertilized irrigation water is pumped out on the trays, by which the cultivation starts soaking up the water and the added fertilizer. After a certain time, the trays are emptied again, and the remaining water runs back into a central collection tank. Before re-use, the water can be filtered and treated. After treatment by filtering or UV disinfection, the water can be re-used again by adding the required amount of fertilizers.
A second important product for the company is a moveable gutter system (MGS) for the production of lettuce and leafy green crops.
Xander van de Zande is CEO at DanDutch. He specializes in exporting to and trading with Southeast Asia and East Asia. Xander explains: “My expertise lies in trade with Asia and horticultural know-how. DanDutch role and services to our clients consist of business development, marketing, sales, and project management. Personally, I have over 20 years of experience doing business in Asia. We take care that the products from our partners in Denmark find the right markets in the Far East. In order to do so, we closely work together with local partners, who help to install the equipment and perform after-sales and care. For example, in China, we work together with some of the largest local greenhouse building companies. Our key markets are Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, and Korea.”
Ebb and flow irrigation
Xander continues: “Most of our projects are developed in or near urban areas. We integrate local knowledge and culture with global greenhouse technology solutions. Our exports to Asia have not been very affected by Covid-19 in the last two years. This year, however, we start to feel that the market has slowed down. Trade with China has come to a virtual stand-still, and high prices for natural resources, including steel, also slow affect trade. Japan has been opening up, and we plan to travel there in June.”
“We have over twenty years of experience and networking history. If companies need products or technical solutions, they know we are a reliable partner. This is why Covid-19 and the accompanying travel bans have not really affected our business. Now, however, we are seeing a dip in the market,” contemplates Xander.
Propagation area for moveable gutter system (MGS)
Vertical farming system
“Our projects in each of our core markets slightly differ from one other. The Chinese market has been characterized by large projects in recent years, especially for the production of vegetables. I expect this trend to stabilize. However, I expect to see growth in vertical farms and multi-level indoor projects. Therefore, we expect more growth in our indoor systems, which can deliver an increase in yield of 30-40% for the production of lettuce,” continues Xander.
Singapore and Japan
Singapore is a different market. Singapore’s local government has announced to strive to be 30% self-sufficient in terms of fresh produce production and consumption by 2030. The country is a large city state, with little rural land in and around the city itself.
“Singapore is a special market. It is characterized by a hard, tropical climate for greenhouse production. In addition, there is little land available. With the support and focus from the local government, vertical farm development has grown rapidly, faster than in adjacent markets. We are completing a moveable gutter system for a 1.5ha and a 0,5ha greenhouse in Lim Chu Kang, the rural area of Singapore. We are also involved in supplying a moveable gutter solution to a 2ha greenhouse, still under construction. In addition, we support the supply of equipment for vertical farms, even at local agricultural universities, continues Xander. “In Japan, we also see strong demand for vertical farm solutions. Japan is also marked by a hot, humid climate that makes it challenging for greenhouse production. Here too, the government is investing in smart growing solutions, typically referred to as plant factories. We act as a supplier to the main greenhouse builders and local installation partners.”
Personal advice on location
Local partnerships are key
DanDutch has seen the background of its clients change when moving from more traditional greenhouse development to the vertical farming industry: “In the traditional greenhouse industry, we partner with greenhouse building or installation companies. For vertical farming, we mainly partner with investment companies. However, we very much need local partners to implement, execute and build the projects, and also for after-sales and services. For this, we need reliable local partners. In Singapore, we see that sometimes there are not enough local partners for the work that needs to be done, so we source partners from the region, including from China, to build and install the projects. Our investment partners do not have the knowledge or expertise required to execute such a project; they rely on us to bring the right partnerships to the table.”
“We are very positive about growth in this region of the world,” concludes Xander. We believe these countries are just at the beginning of growth. Our basis is that we work with our Danish partners to bring them the best opportunities in Asia.”