Meet the people behind the crops: Dirk-Jan Polak

Meet the people behind the crops: Dirk-Jan Polak

At Hazera, we are proud of our dedicated team, which works passionately to provide our growers with the best products. While our products often grab the headlines, it is the Hazera team who are behind our success. Let’s shine the spotlight on Dirk-Jan Polak (57), a Commercial Crop Specialist from Poortugaal, Netherlands, who plays a vital role in our organization.

Dirk-Jan has agriculture running in his veins. He shares with a smile. “My family history is quite interesting. We are a real food family. We are growers, fishermen, butchers, and bakers. In fact, just near our head office in Oosteind, you can find a bakery, the Bakery Polak, a legacy of my family.” For eight years, Dirk-Jan was a game dealer and built the Hollands Wild brand together with Jo Kloet. “We were the odd ones in the meat world.” Dirk-Jan laughed. “Because Jo had been a marketing director at Rijk Zwaan and I had had my vegetable-cutting company.” He joined Hazera two years ago as a Commercial Crop Specialist for radishes, corn salad, and baby carrots. His dedication to his work and crops is shown in the success of various projects. A recent example is the radish mix, where Dirk-Jan’s contributions played an important part and helped the project earn the prestigious title of Best Product of the Year in the Dutch Consumer Election.

What is a common myth about your job or field of expertise?

When asked about a misconception in his field, Dirk-Jan responds: “Most people who are no longer connected to our agriculture and horticulture hardly realize how professional and efficient we have become, but also how dependent we still are on nature and have to deal with it and every day.’’

In your opinion, what is the most important personality trait someone would need to work in your industry?

Dirk-Jan believes effective communication is crucial in his role as a Commercial Crop Specialist. “I act as the bridge between growers and Hazera, facilitating the flow of needs and solutions. It’s not just about delivering products; it’s about understanding the growers’ challenges, market demands, and regulatory landscapes,” he explains. “So, we can provide them a solution for the right varieties, the right calibers at the right time, in the right place.”

Which project are you proud of and why?

Dirk-Jan said immediately with a smile: “The radish mix was a nice project. It was the idea of a grower at Ortolanda to put three different colored radishes (purple, red, and white) in one box. It kind of looks like a rainbow radish box. This radish mix opened a new, so-called “snack radish” market, which is attractive for a new target group of consumers, the younger generation.” Continues Dirk-Jan with excitement. “It even caught the attention of Albert Heijn, a major Dutch supermarket, positioning radishes in a new, health-focused spotlight. It is also good and healthy for the people because, with the radish mix box, they eat three kinds of radish at once.”

What does “Hazera – Growing Together” mean to you?

“I like this slogan, because we as Hazera, as a breeder, are at the beginning of the whole food chain and this position comes with a great responsibility. That is why it is important to grow together with our growers, and our customers by listening to them and creating varieties that are needed for the markets to be able to feed the world sustainably in the future. This slogan also refers to the great team we have at Hazera that works together.”

Can you tell us something about yourself that most people do not know?

“I am an enthusiastic person, who always thinks of solutions. I think there is a solution to all the problems, but it is very important to communicate with your colleagues and customers. For many years I used to work primarily in Dutch and the transition to work mainly in English has been a bit difficult.” Dirk-Jan admits with a candid smile. “But it is getting better, and I try to be the ambassador and communicator for my crops and role.”

Do you want to stay connected with our Hazera people?

Follow us our social media channels to stay connected with our Hazera people! If you have any questions left, don’t hesitate to ask them via our contact page!