FM Group: “Make every product completely transparent”

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Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important criterion for good entrepreneurship and will also determine the right to exist of companies in floriculture. So says Nancy van Kleef, Director Retail & Marketing at FM Group and also responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility within the company. The exporter is therefore committed to being CO2 neutral by 2025. “We are taking big steps, but we are not there yet.”  

With a turnover of 800 million euros per year, more than 2,400 colleagues worldwide and activities in 82 countries, FM Group is a leading player in the international floriculture trade. The purchasing services for flowers, plants and accessories are centrally directed, as are all logistical processing options. Sustainability has been a theme within the trading house since 2013, says Nancy van Kleef. Within the board, she is responsible for sustainability, marketing and retail. “In the early years it was very unclear what exactly sustainability should mean for the sector. We knew it was important, but not how to give it hands and feet. That simmered for a few years, so to speak, until it started to take on more serious forms in 2016. In 2017, this led to our first strategic sustainability policy.”

Shift to footprint

With a full-time team, FM Group has since focused on sustainability, Van Kleef indicates. And the urgency of this theme is only increasing, she believes. “Sustainability is a ‘license to sell’. It has become an important criterion for good entrepreneurship so it is also good to know exactly what you are doing in that area and how you are doing.” Although the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) is currently still the standard, according to Van Kleef there is a shift to footprinting. “We have had our own footprint calculated since 2020, but we also know that the product footprint is coming. We have to wait until the European Commission makes it definitive. But the need for a fully transparent footprint of every product you supply is growing rapidly and we want to go along with that.”

Greenhouse Sustainability helps FM Group calculate the footprint. “We are now looking together at how, in addition to the company footprint, we can also provide insight into the entire chain and involve growers and suppliers. The measuring instrument that Greenhouse Sustainability offers is very important in this regard. We do not have such tools in-house. Because Greenhouse Sustainability also focuses on the further development of those tools and processes, we are happy to work with them to continue to be among the frontrunners.” In addition, FM Group first looks at reducing CO2 emissions before offsetting. “Based on the insights provided by the calculations, we can determine where improvement is possible within our own organization, but soon also externally at growers and suppliers. We will then look for the right balance between reduction and offsetting.”

Part of KPI's

Van Kleef indicates that FM Group is busy both externally and internally to make people aware of sustainability and to inform them about it. “We tell colleagues what we do, why we do it and what they can do about it themselves. In this way we also make sustainability part of the KPIs that people have. For example, by having buyers purchase a certain percentage of sustainable products. You can influence this directly within your own organization. This is more difficult for customers. Externally, we have therefore set up Circles.FM a special platform where we collect information that is relevant to parties in the floriculture chain.”

Of course, there is also discussion within FM Group about what all those efforts actually yield, says Van Kleef. “Because why do we have to invest so much time in this, while it is not yet relevant for many other companies? But we are convinced that sustainability will also determine the existence for the future. This intrinsic motivation ensures that we continue to invest in sustainability.”

Temporary spot on the horizon

FM Group's goal is to be CO2 neutral by 2025. “I see that as a temporary spot on the horizon, because you never have an end point in this area. In addition, I believe that we should be able to offer as many people as possible sustainable products and inform them about the best standard at the moment. How far are we in that? I find that difficult to determine. It starts with providing insight into your own business operations, which we do by means of footprint calculations. Compared to 2020, we have already taken significant steps in a year. So we are moving in the right direction, but at the same time we are not there yet.”

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