Upscaling of greenhouse vegetable production

© Hollandse Hoogte / Bert Beelen
The number of greenhouse vegetable growers decreased by 85 percent between 1980 and 2017. At the same time, the average cultivation area in use by the remaining growers increased sevenfold. In 2017, the ten largest farms specialising in greenhouse vegetable production accounted for nearly 10 percent of the total acreage used in greenhouse vegetable production. This is according to definitive figures taken from the Agricultural Census 2017, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Greenhouse vegetable production has seen a massive scale increase over a period of nearly 40 years. The number of greenhouse vegetable growers fell from nearly 8 thousand in 1980 to 1.26 thousand in 2017, i.e. a decline of around 85 percent. At the same time, the acreage devoted to greenhouse vegetables grew by 7 percent to nearly 5 thousand hectares (ha).

Greenhouse vegetable production (x 1,000)
 Acreage (ha)Farms
19804.667.86
19814.657.72
19824.657.54
19834.637.35
19844.597.17
19854.566.97
19864.536.78
19874.456.54
19884.436.31
19894.425.99
19904.455.65
19914.535.53
19924.595.39
19934.735.25
19944.54.91
19954.414.69
19964.254.41
19974.24.19
19984.314.08
19994.283.77
20004.23.43
20004.23.43
20014.273.17
20024.293
20034.322.83
20044.362.65
20054.442.55
20064.552.4
20074.572.21
20084.652.02
20094.831.87
20104.991.77
20114.991.69
20124.871.59
20134.891.52
20144.831.44
20154.761.39
20164.921.33
20174.991.26

Greenhouse vegetable farms expanding more and more

In 1980, the area per greenhouse vegetable grower still amounted to an average 0.6 ha, versus 4 ha in 2017. The average cultivation area has seen a tremendous increase over the past five years in particular. Over the period 1980-2000, upscaling went step by step, with the average greenhouse vegetable area per farm doubling from 0.6 to 1.2 ha. This was already over 3 ha five years ago; by 2017, the average greenhouse vegetable grower was cultivating on 5 ha.

Greenhouse vegetable area per grower (ha)
 
19800.6
19810.6
19820.6
19830.6
19840.6
19850.7
19860.7
19870.7
19880.7
19890.7
19900.8
19910.8
19920.9
19930.9
19940.9
19950.9
19961
19971
19981.1
19991.1
20001.2
20001.2
20011.3
20021.4
20031.5
20041.6
20051.7
20061.9
20072.1
20082.3
20092.6
20102.8
20113
20123.1
20133.2
20143.4
20153.4
20163.7
20174

Greenhouse strawberry production tripled

Partly driven by innovations such as improved vegetable varieties, targeted application of nutrients and the use of supplemental lighting, greenhouse vegetable growers are able to achieve higher production levels on the same area. Some 25 years ago, for example, around 40 kg of tomatoes were picked per square metre annually. This yield has now gone up to over 50 kg.

Average production levels of greenhouse vegetables rose by around 36 percent between 2000 and 2017. Strawberry cultivation under glass almost tripled (177 percent) while production of courgettes more than doubled (138 percent). There was furthermore a substantial increase in greenhouse cultivation of tomatoes (75 percent) and aubergines (61 percent).

Greenhouse vegetable production (million kg)
 TomatoesCucumbersBell peppersAuberginesStrawberries (under glass and in tunnels)
20005204102853315
20015504252953115
20025554333103316
20035954303153916.5
20046554353184115.5
20056604403454117
20066804403184019.5
20076854303204121
20087304253354321.2
20098004353704620.5
20108154353654621.4
20118254303654624
20128054103454724.4
20138554003254827
20149004403405129
20158904053605328.6
20169003703655432.5
2017*9104003705341.5

Standard output in greenhouse horticulture exceeds 2 million euros

Greenhouse vegetable cultivation is one of three agricultural sectors which have recorded a turnover increase of more than 1 million euros over the past 17 years. In 2000, the standard output generated by an average-sized holding in greenhouse vegetable production still amounted to 570 thousand euros; this had exceeded 2 million euros by 2017.

Ten farms accounting for 10 percent of greenhouse vegetable area

The ten largest specialist greenhouse vegetable production holdings combined accounted for 486 ha in acreage in 2017, equivalent to around 10 percent of the total greenhouse vegetable cultivation area in the Netherlands. In 2000, the ten largest holdings were good for only 3 percent (115 ha). The average number of workers at these specialist holdings is 18. The ten largest ones employ over 170 people on average.

As of 2000, the standard output generated by specialist greenhouse vegetable production holdings has increased on an annual basis from around half a million euros to over 2 million euros (2017). Turnover realised by the ten largest farms increased from around 5 million euros in 2000 to over 21 million euros in 2017.