Top Sector Agri & Food: societal challenges and economic opportunities

Societal challenges

The world is facing enormous challenges. In the next generation, the world population will increase by 2 billion people. Moreover, 800 million people are currently starving or are lacking proper, nutritious food. Thus, this means we have to produce more food than ever before.

At the same time, various trends call for different kinds of food. Due to a worldwide increasing prosperity, demand for high quality protein such as vegetables, dairy and meat is growing. A growing share of the population is suffering from diet-related health problems (obesity, diabetes) and more and more consumers are consciously choosing for healthier, more sustainable food.

Although the Dutch agricultural sector has the lowest impact on the environment, climate and biodiversity per kilogram of food worldwide, a further improvement is necessary and is also possible. That is why extra attention needs to be paid to developing climate neutral, sustainable and robust production systems, where circularity and reuse of waste and by-products are also important. Animal welfare is and will remain an important topic, which will remain so.

Economic opportunities

These societal challenges offer great economic opportunities, for which the Dutch agricultural sector has important assets. We are an international market leader and have a strong, highly productive and innovative sector with very efficient processing and logistics. We have the best knowledge institutions worldwide and the public-private cooperation between businesses, knowledge institutions and government is in our genes. By joining forces, we can face societal challenges and at the same time strengthen the economic power of the sector. We do this nationally and internationally.

Dutch agricultural exports, estimate 2016
Source: CBS, Wageningen Economic Research

Knowledge and innovation agenda Agri & Food

The Top Sector Agri & Food has the ambition to be a world leader in successful solutions for global challenges in the fields of agriculture and food. More specifically, our Knowledge and Innovation Agenda focuses on the following topics:

  • Circular agriculture
  • Climate-neutral agriculture and food production
  • Climate-proof rural and urban areas
  • Appreciated, healthy and safe food
  • Sustainable and safe North Sea, oceans and inland waters
  • The best protected and habitable delta in the world

Top Sector Agri & Food stimulates new knowledge and innovations, first and foremost by creating and financing research and innovation projects. This does not just include fundamental and applied research, but also valorisation.

Top Team Agri & Food

The final responsibility for Top Sector Agri & Food lies with the Top Team, which is made up of representatives from the business sector, science and government (the “golden triangle”). The Top Team is the management committee and is being chaired by a figurehead from the sector.

Dirk Duijzer

    Joris Baecke
    Cropper; board member LTO Nederland

    Marten van den Berg
    Directorate General Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality

    Nils den Besten
    RvC FrieslandCampina

    Marit van Egmond
    CEO Albert Heijn; member CBL

    Gerda Feunekes
    Director AFSG – WUR

    David Foursert
    CEO Avebe

    Leo den Hartog
    Director R&D Nutreco

        Dutch top sectors

        The Top Sector Agri & Food is one of the 9 top sectors in which The Netherlands excels worldwide. Businesses, universities, research centres, governments and social organisations work together on knowledge and innovation, internationalisation, human capital and the reduction of regulatory pressure in order to strengthen this position even more.


        Important publications regarding Top Sector Agri & Food can be found in the library (mainly Dutch).

        Working areas
        Top Sector Agri & Food