In 1919, a group of Dutch farmers realised that there was more to the potatoes they were growing. Instead of selling their crops themselves, they started a cooperative to find buyers for the starch. That cooperative was Avebe and the starch was the first of a range of products they derived from potatoes. Today, we are more than 2,000 members strong, and feature a team of 1,300 professionals working with customers around the world, sharing the vision of a healthier and more sustainable future. Many of the things we’re working on seemed impossible to our founders – but we like to think they’d still recognise the way we go about making them happen. We’re still a cooperative. We’re still only using the potato. And we’re still doing it together. In 2019, we received the honorary Royal Warrant of the Netherlands: a recognition of our conviction that our members, employees, customers and society alike all benefit from our work.
The challenges today’s planet and people face are too big for any one of us to solve. Climate. Nutrition. Health. You simply can’t build a sustainable food system on your own. But together we can do it: it requires transparency, openness and a willingness to share each other’s vision. Our ability to put consensus and respect over short term, opportunistic gain – makes us the ideal organisation to trust with expanding the potato’s potential.
The potato is the planet’s most versatile crop. Technically, they can even grow on Mars. They pack up to four times the calories per acre of corn. They feed a billion people every day. And since they are less vulnerable to climate change and less responsible for it, they could provide nutrition for even more.
By learning how to harness their starch and proteins, Avebe researchers are now unlocking exponentially bigger gains. Plant-based burgers. Milk that requires no cow. An end to allergies, e-numbers and unnatural additives. Our work won’t just change the way you see potatoes, they’ll change the way you see the world. Together we can find healthy and sustainable ideas, foods and products the world so urgently needs.
In a world where people are putting more and more value on knowing where their food comes from and what its impact will be – on both their bodies and the planet – we can add more value than ever before. Because we take responsibility for the whole process, from field to lab to factory, we have the power to make a real difference to the future – with more sustainable cultivation and less impact on the environment.
At our breeding station we’re developing new potato varieties – more resistant to diseases and heat, requiring less water and delivering better yields from the same land. And across our facilities, we’re upgrading our process to minimise our carbon footprint, water usage and waste.
The challenges of the years ahead will not be easy. But as farmers, as scientists, as entrepreneurs, we’ve never done easy. And most of all, we know what our founders knew: when we work together, we are always more than the sum of our parts. We’re not just expanding the potential of our potatoes; we are creating a positive impact on the lives of over 500 million people.