Albert Heijn is set to increase the number of Dutch-produced fresh SKUs in its stores, adding to its already existing offer of 100% homegrown milk, cheese, eggs, chicken, and pork.
By using innovative cultivation and storage techniques, the retailer will add more than 40 million potato, vegetable, and fruit products to its shelves, it said.
Albert Heijn plans to put products from Dutch farms onto shelves in its outlets within 24 hours to ensure freshness.
The retailer has been working with Dutch dairy, pig, and poultry farmers for many years, as it believes fresher, local products taste better than those imported from outside the Netherlands, it said.
The chain is also collaborating with farmers on new, innovative ways to grow potatoes, vegetables and fruit in the Netherlands.
Albert Heijn now offers potatoes, strawberries, and blackberries from the Netherlands available all year round, and the Dutch season for raspberries, cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce, herbs, potatoes, onions and conference pears is being extended, thanks to new cultivation and storage techniques.
Constantijn Ninck Blok, fresh director at Albert Heijn, praised the work undertaken across the group's operations, saying, "From the harvest at the farmer and grower, to the trained fruit and vegetable employees in the shops; every link in the chain is important to guarantee the right quality and availability."
An example of an innovation undertaken by the retailer is the new cultivation technique used by potato growers, which means that the potatoes arrive on the shelves earlier.
The technique ensures that the right soil structure and conditions are created for the potatoes, which are planted in February.
The potato growers then cover the potatoes with special plastic so that they can grow even during a cold period.
The plastic is removed at the end of April and reused in the next harvest. This process has enabled Albert Heijn to offer local potatoes all year round.
The retailer is also researching new storage techniques with Dutch growers to keep the harvest good for longer and phase out imported potatoes in the near future.