Netherlands largest arable farming province

Zeeland is the largest arable farming province in the Netherlands with three quarters of the land being used for food production such as onions, the largest export product in the Netherlands. 80% of Dutch onion production and processing takes place in Zeeland. Nowhere in Europe is there a location where the water reaches so far inland and where this is already being put to maximum use for the fishing industry, crustacean and shellfish-farming and aquaculture.And there is still room for development

“Zeeland is the largest arable farming province in the Netherlands with three quarters of the land being used for food production such as onions, the largest export product in the Netherlands.
All you need to know about agrifood in Zeeland

why Zeeland is the hotspot for agrifood

Here we give you the most important reasons why Zeeland is the hotspot for agrifood

Zeeland is located very strategically between the two world ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. In fact, the Zeeland-Flemish Canal zone, which falls under the municipality of Terneuzen, is also known as the gateway to Europe.

Thanks to its attractive maritime climate, Zeeland is particularly suitable for a wide range of players within the agrifood sector, an example being the establishment of (greenhouse) horticultural companies. Zeeland is also known as the sunshine province. With an annual average of 1,650 hours’ sunshine this is the sunniest spot in the Netherlands. And last but not least, Zeeland has a lot of space to offer at competitive land prices. It is not hard to guess why successful companies choose to locate here.

A lot of food involves fresh food products requiring speedy transportation. By rail, by road or by inland shipping. Zeeland has surprisingly fast connections for anyone whose customers are located in Belgium, Northern France, Germany or elsewhere. Apart from this, Zeeland also offers great advantages for transport to the east or south of the Netherlands.

Food Port Bijleveldhaven

The port of Zeeland has its own Food Port in the Bijleveldhaven in Vlissingen. This is a thriving center specialized in the processing, storage and transshipment of food products and reefer containers. The facilities Food Port offers include stevedores, cold stores, such as Kloosterboer and Kotra, and packing stations.

  • Storage capacity: 215,000 tonnes / 1,700,000 m3
  • Storage and transfer of fruit: 46,000 pallet locations
  • Freight Chiquita bananas: 170,000 tonnes per year
  • Freight AFC bananas: 250,000 tonnes per year
  • Total perishable foods: 1 million tonnes per year
  • Location for mixing juices
  • Bulk and rack storage for all frozen, chilled and dry foods
  • Rail links
  • Inspection location for phytosanitary and veterinary checks
  • Holding all requisite certificates
  • Mobile cranes, heavy lift cranes
  • Good barge connection from/to Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam; low shipping costs
  • Draft: 10.5m llws
  • Quay length: 2,000m

Within this growing food cluster, the Zeeland Seaports port company is always on the lookout for companies with an added value.

Cosun Vlaeynatie Sugar Terminal

The Flemish transshipment company Vlaeynatie has built a new terminal for the storage and transshipment of white sugar on the Axelse Vlakte in the port area of North Sea Port in Terneuzen. Vlaeynatie needs extra storage and transshipment capacity because in 2017 the European export restriction on beet sugar will cease to exist. Sugar from France and Germany will be stored for export in the silo with a capacity of 80,000 tonnes. A second, smaller silo (50,000 tonnes) is presently under construction. Initially, the sugar will be delivered mainly by truck. Vlaeynatie will also have a rail connection. When construction work is complete, half the sugar supply will be transported by road and the other half by rail. The sugar will be delivered by ship via the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal.

In 2015, Vlaeynatie, together with fertilizer producer Plantacote, moved to the Autrichehaven in Terneuzen. Apart from the storage and transshipment of sugar, Vlaeynatie is also responsible for storing and packaging the fertilizer produced by Plantacote right next door. Smart choice for a perfect location!

Global demand for seafood is rising. The world's population is growing and more and more people are eating fish and seafood because it's healthy. On the other hand, the supply of wild capture fish, crustaceans and shellfish is stagnating. If we are to meet the increasing demand for seafood, we need a more controlled production, or aquaculture.

Zeeland tradition

Zeeland has a long tradition in saline aquaculture as the province is located in a delta area and the salt water is nearby. In fact, it would be very hard to find a more perfect location for the sustainable breeding of fish, crustaceans and shellfish! Many Zeeland entrepreneurs lead the field in the cultivation of algae, seaweed, worms, lobster and fish.


To make the sector even more sustainable, various pilot projects have examined how to make the land-based cultivation of fish, crustaceans and shellfish economically profitable.


Zeeland also has living labs for innovations. In the Coastal Laboratory for example, saline cultures and concepts are worked out and tested in practice.

Added to this, the HZ University of Applied Sciences has established a research group, 'Aquaculture in Delta Areas', which supports entrepreneurs by examining questions in practice. This is often done in cooperation with other knowledge institutes and consultancy firms. Lecturers, teacher researchers, project staff and students all work together in projects and collaborate with representatives from professional practice. Research is carried out on site, in the field and in the specially designed SEA-Lab. Apart from doing research, the group also provides training and courses in aquaculture.


Zeeland wants to make a name for itself as a culinary knowledge institute in the field of saline cooking. The Zilte Academie Zeeland (ZAZ) is both a teaching center and center of excellence for international cooking with Zeeland products.

Zeeland is one of the larger agricultural provinces in the Netherlands, and with its more than 83.500 hectares has the largest area of arable farmland. In total, Zeeland has 2807 farms, of which 80% are arable (source:CBS).

Food processing and value creation

Apart from primary production, Zeeland is also strong when it comes to food processing and value creation. In volume onions are the largest Dutch agrifood export product and over 80% is exported through Zeeland. The onion center is located in the region near Kruiningen. In fact, of all the onions traded worldwide through the Netherlands, 25% comes from Zeeland! This is generally done through the North Sea Port Food Port in the Bijleveldhaven in Vlissingen.

Apart from onions, Zeeland companies also grow and processes potatoes, grain legumes, sugar beets, wheat / grain and flax.

Network organization FoodDelta Zeeland

FoodDelta Zeeland has a clear objective to promote growth in the production, processing, trade and consumption of food products. Key elements here are innovative capability, added value and sustainability.
Collaboration with and crossovers of the agricultural sector and the crustacean and shellfish sector with other sectors, play a key role in the Zeeland food cluster. FoodDelta Zeeland is committed to achieving strong growth in the nature, size and positioning of the Zeeland food cluster in 2020. Through close links, cooperation and an area-oriented approach and/or one that transcends the sector, shared interests are served as well as allowing individual business goals to be achieved better and faster.

Available talent

Various courses are available in terms of agri and food. In fact, the MBO 2017 Selection Guide rates the Edudelta College in Goes as the best green secondary vocational school of the year. Various agrifood-related specialist vocational courses are also offered at Scalda, and last but not least, the HZ University of Applied Sciences offers courses and programs in aquaculture and Water Management.

Fast logistics connections

A lot of food involves fresh products, which demand rapid transport. By rail, road or inland shipping: Zeeland has surprisingly fast connections to a wide range of countries worldwide. Many large (international) companies like Kloosterboer, Cargill, McCain and Lamb Weston / Meijer have already located to Zeeland. Not only for production, but also for the many possibilities Zeeland offers for the processing, packaging, storage and transshipment and transport of agrifood products.

Zeeland is a smart choice to locate an agrifood company - whether it’s a European headquarters, a shared services center, a customer care center, a distribution and logistics operation, or an R&D facility

Ohad Maiman, Kingfish Zeeland

“Our new location in Colijnsplaat is perfectly situated for logistics and distribution channels for the sale of fish across Europe. We received very good cooperation from local authorities, the international expertise of NFIA (Dutch Foreign Investment Agency) and Invest in Zeeland. So of course the choice for Zeeland was easily made.”

Proposition Agrifood Zeeland

Companies active in the Agrifood sector in Zeeland

Contact us

We are here to help

The agrifood sector in Zeeland provides many opportunities. We help you to capitalize on those opportunities.

Daphne d'Hont

Project manager Agri-food & Circular Economy

Laurens Meijering

Project manager Circular economy