In the heart of Gelderland, collaboration between food companies, research institutes, and local agribusinesses has given rise to an industry so innovative and important that it is frequently compared to California’s Silicon Valley. Wageningen’s Food Valley is a global hotspot for the future of food.

The Origins of Food Valley  

Today, Food Valley is many things: the Food Valley region, formally set up in 2011; the Foodvalley organization, established in 2004; and the Foodvalley programme, a publicly funded initiative established in 2020. 

Although Food Valley works in collaboration throughout the Netherlands (and the world) to promote international food science and technology, it is uniquely rooted in the culture of Gelderland and the history of Wageningen University. 

Wageningen University was established in 1876 as an agricultural college. In the 1980s, the school’s focus on applied science and technology earned it a designation as a “hogescholen” (similar to an “institute of technology”). As interest in agriculture waned in the 1990s, the focus on life sciences further expanded, and in 2016 it formally united with a research institute, becoming Wageningen University and Research. WUR is consistently ranked the best life sciences, agriculture, and forestry university in the world by multiple organizations, attracting thousands of international students every year.

Because of the traditions of agriculture in the region, the presence of the university and research center, and the number of graduates, students, and food science professionals that live in the city, it is natural that Wageningen would become the hub of innovation in food and agriculture. The current Food Valley programs and initiatives are also the result of a typically Dutch public+private collaboration and cooperation, with support from government and industry. 

Foodvalley Programs

The Foodvalley organization has three primary focus areas that are the target of the Foodvalley 2030 ten-year program: 

  1. Sustainable Protein System. This program is focused on supply chain issues in alternative and plant-based proteins. By focusing on locally produced and consumed proteins, improving the knowledge and facilities gap, and tapping into cross-cap knowledge from animal protein supply chains, Foodvalley aims to improve availability of key nutrients within local economies. 
  2. Healthy Choice the Easy Choice. This initiative is focused on making healthy food choices simpler, more convenient, and more affordable for consumers. The goal is to increase the overall availability and appeal of healthy foods, by either creating new healthy products, or reformulating existing products to make them more nutritious. 
  3. Circular Agrifood Chain. Every year, about 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted, with a global footprint of about 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. While small scale operators are increasingly repurposing their waste streams, implementation is expensive, and large producers are less willing to disrupt profitable supply chains. Foodvalley seeks to accelerate ways in which farmers, producers, and retailers can repurpose their food waste. 
The Food Valley Impact

Today, 15 of the world’s top 20 agrifood businesses, including Cargill, Upfield, Nestlé, Unilever, Kraft Heinz, FrieslandCampina and more, have major research and development centers in the Netherlands. Constant innovations in seed production, land use, food technologies, and agriculture have made this tiny country the second-most valuable food exporter in the world behind the US, and the focus on education and training has a global impact.

By researching nature and technology, and harnessing the power of private and public cooperation, Food Valley is paving the way toward a more healthy, sustainable future for the world, and training the researchers and scientists who will help take us there. If your company wants to be a part of the future of food, and needs a recruitment partner who will help you get there, contact grapefrute today.