Since 2012, farmers and horticulturists have become more appreciated in the Netherlands. This result from a study by the Agrifood Monitor of Wageningen Economic Research is striking, especially because of a turbulent year with the farmers' protests in 2019, the nitrogen crisis and the consequences of corona. Not only flavour, affordability and health are the most important values of the daily food for consumers, safety, a good feeling and food from the region have also become more important in the previous years.
This is evident from a study by the Agrifood Monitor that Wageningen Economic Research is carrying out on behalf of the Top Sector Agri & Food. The monitor, in which over 3,000 Dutch people are asked how they value the agricultural and food sectors, shows that respect for almost all sectors has increased. This concerns horticulture, arable farming, the poultry sector, dairy farming, supermarkets and the food industry. Only pig farming is not valued higher than the previous measurement in 2018.
Corona influences our diet and basic needs such as food, safety and stability. Flavour, affordability and health are the most important values in the food we eat on an ordinary day. The virus also caused Dutch products to be appreciated more. The farmers' protests have also sparked more interest in the way food is produced and where it comes from. These events have no direct influence on the appreciation for agriculture and horticulture, but they do have a direct impact on the appreciation of their products.
The sustainability aspect also remains important. Arable farming and horticulture are seen as the most sustainable, pig farming, poultry farming, supermarkets and the food industry score less highly. 71% of the respondents in this survey are willing to pay 10% more for sustainable food. This mainly concerns dairy and arable products.
The study also shows: The closer the respondents live to a farmer or horticulturist, the higher the appreciation for this sector.
The positive result of the Agrifood Monitor 2020 somewhat surprised Dirk Duijzer, chairman of the Top Sector Agri & Food. With the farmers' protests in 2019 and the nitrogen crisis and the consequences of the coronavirus this year, agriculture and horticulture have also had a turbulent year. "I therefore find the positive outcome striking," Duijzer says. He calls the outcome a boost to farmers and horticulturists. "Farmers are feeling the pressure from all the regulations and criticism from politicians. They get the feeling that things are going completely wrong. This monitor says otherwise. The trick is to give that broader attention. Because farmers sometimes think worse about their own sector than society does."
Wim Bens, acting chairman of LTO Nederland, is also positive. "It is good that appreciation for this sector has gone up," he is quoted on the LTO website. "But we are especially proud of the entrepreneurs to whom we owe this, because they are committed every day to produce healthy and good food. Especially in times like this, when the agricultural sector is also being hit hard, appreciation for your hard work can provide a helping hand."
The Agrifood monitor explains social appreciation and provides insight into the factors that influence this. This concerns appreciation in dairy farming, horticulture, arable farming, the poultry sector, pig farming, supermarkets and the food industry. The study was funded by the Top Sector Agri & Food and was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.