Agrofood & Biomass

Discover why Holland is the second largest food exporter in the world, how the agro-food chain is going circular and how we fight food-waste. We also aim at showing participants the best Holland has to offer in terms of horticulture and City farming.

In 2050, the global population will rise to 9.5 billion people. This means that the world would need 70% more food. At the same time, a third of the food produced worldwide still goes to waste. A circular agro food system can use the currently available agricultural land to feed the world. By definition, a circular agro food system is ‘zero waste’. All products leaving an agricultural farm are used as an end product or raw material for one of the other links in the circular economy. Also, in a circular economy, no food is being wasted. Residue streams of food production are utilized and nutrient cycles are closed.

Possible topics

  • How to reduce food waste
  • Closing nutrient cycles in agriculture

Examples of best practices:

The food on our dinner plate has travelled on average 15.000 kilometers to get there. Rotterzwam aims to shorten that. They use something that is considered ‘waste’ to grow delicious gourmet mushrooms. What is that ‘waste’ you might ask? Coffee is – after oil – the most traded commodity in the world. And making coffee is a very inefficient process. Only 0,2% of the coffee bean ends in your cup. The other 99,8% is considered waste and thrown away. In The Netherlands alone we throw away an average of 120 million kilo of coffee waste. If you drink coffee, Rotterzwam can help you to grow mushrooms on it!

Every year, one third of food production is wasted. That comes down to a worldwide wastage of 1.3 billion tons per year. Social enterprise Instock wants to reduce food waste. They take on this challenge by using products that otherwise remain unsold. These products, vegetables, fruits, potatoes and meat, etc. cannot be sold because the expiration date is almost reached. They do meet all safety requirements. Instock has restaurants in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Every day their chefs prepare delicious meals from the food they rescue.

Closing mineral cycles
At the moment, the mineral cycles in agriculture are not closed. Through animal food and fertilizers extra minerals are added that are subsequently removed through the manure. The closing of these cycles will be a significant step towards the sustainability of the sector and will at the same time create interesting business cases. Technology has been designed to produce green manure through bio refinery and other processing techniques. By doing this, minerals (nitrogen and phosphate) can be regained and secondary raw materials for the bio-based economy can be obtained.

For example, BMC Moerdijk is a unique power plant: it is the sole power plant on the European mainland that converts poultry manure into sustainable energy. The incineration of the manure releases energy in the form of heat, which is then converted into steam and fed into a turbine that drives a generator to produce electricity. Ash is the sole residue from the incineration process. The ash, which contains valuable minerals such as potassium and phosphorous, is homogeneous since the fuel – poultry manure – is of consistent quality. BMC supplies this ash to customers outside the Netherlands, who use the ash as a soil improver. In doing so, BMC Moerdijk offers several benefits: manure is processed in a responsible manner, green energy is supplied to the grid and ash packed with valuable minerals is available for the agricultural and horticultural sector.