Rijk Zwaan has more than 80 years’ experience in the areas of vegetable breeding and seed production. From a shop selling vegetable seed in Rotterdam in 1924 we have grown into a major world player in creating successful vegetable varieties. In order to carry out our own research, Rijk Zwaan built its first facilities for seed production and breeding in Bergschenhoek in 1932. The company subsequently continued growing, steadily and healthily, and in 1964 the first foreign subsidiary was set up in Germany. From 1980 onwards international development was swift and our own sales organisation followed in an increasing number of countries, within and outside Europe. In 1970, Rijk Zwaan’s head office moved to De Lier, in the heart of Dutch glasshouse horticulture. In the worldwide market of vegetable seeds, Rijk Zwaan is at the fifth place with a turnover of over 350 million euros. Every year, we invest 30% of our turnover in R&D.
Rijk Zwaan develops vegetable varieties and sells the seeds produced from them, which places us right at the start of the food chain.
Rijk Zwaan is characterised by continuous, autonomous growth, with the focus on the interests of the employees. These principles also played a major part in 1989, when Rijk Zwaan was temporarily for sale, after having been owned for a brief period by oil company BP. At that time, Rijk Zwaan made it a condition that employees would keep their jobs and that Rijk Zwaan would be able to continue to develop independently. Eventually the result was that a successful management buy-out was negotiated, with the Rijk Zwaan shares ending up in the hands of three families. Ever since then, Rijk Zwaan has always sailed an independent course.
For Rijk Zwaan, the Nineties were characterised by further internationalisation and rapid technological developments. Major investments were made in various research areas such as molecular and cell biology; phytopathology; biochemistry and seed technology. Rijk Zwaan became a participant in the Bioseeds consortium – a number of companies that jointly own biotechnical company Keygene in Wageningen. As a result of so much growth, the breeding and office facilities were extended and modernised. And investments in knowledge and people continue unabated, because Rijk Zwaan is convinced that it is the only way to be able to keep growing in innovation and quality.