Triple Digits

Published online: Jan 04, 2021 Feature
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This article appears as the cover feature in the January 2021 issue of Sugar Producer.

September 2020 marked 100 years since Denmark got its first—and still only—seed business in beets. MariboHilleshög marked the anniversary with a beet day for Danish beet growers on Sept. 18, first with a field demonstration, then with an event at company headquarters in Holeby, Denmark, where Maribo seeds have been developed and produced—first at the former sugar factory, and since the 1930 at a new processing station in Højbygårdvej just outside the city.

In 1920, De Danske Sukkerfabrikker (the Danish Sugar Factories) established the company to ensure the supply of beet seeds to Danish growers and to get a better yield in the sugarbeet fields. Since then, there have been several changes of ownership and name, and the customer base has grown to include beet growers spread across the globe. But the product is still called Maribo seeds, and it still offers a promise of quality.

Sticking to Their Roots

Especially in recent years, a lot has happened. First came a divestment from Danisco to Syngenta in 2010. Three years ago the company was acquired by DLF, putting Maribo back in Danish hands. At the same time, Maribo Seed was merged with Swedish company Hilleshög, which DLF had also taken over from Syngenta, and continued under the name MariboHilleshög—still with Holeby as the headquarters for all of the company’s 340 employees. In April 2020, the company got a new CEO when Hans Christian Ambjerg replaced the retiring Niels Mikkelsen.

Seed around the Globe

“Today, Maribo enjoys a really strong setup,” says Ambjerg. “In Landskrona, Sweden, we have 85 employees exclusively dedicated to breeding new varieties adapted to local conditions. Here in Denmark, we have well-functioning laboratories, thorough experimental and processing work and efficient production. Worldwide, we are represented in 35 countries.”

For a company completely focused on helping sugarbeet growers optimize their yields, it has proven ideal for Maribo to be part of DLF, a global seed company owned by Danish farmers. In these first years with the new ownership, Maribo has seen a willingness by the parent company to invest in the facilities in Holeby, where the production of beet seeds has increased considerably.