Major retailers are increasing pressure on trading partners to provide more insights into the origins of their products. The demand for data on product footprinting is growing every day. "England, France, Germany, Austria; our customers in all markets are actively engaged in this," says Wico van Dam.
He is responsible for Quality & Sustainability at plant trading company Floréac (with 150 employees in the Netherlands and Belgium). Sustainability is a significant theme within the company. Currently, 85% of the plants traded by Floréac come from sustainable growers, but they see room for improvement. "Our goal is to offer 90% of our plants with an MPS GAP or a GLOBAL GAP + IDA module, which are plants with a Good Agricultural Practice certificate, by 2025. It's evidence of sustainable production. We want to involve our suppliers in this initiative."
Floréac's footprint calculation
Floréac had its own footprint of the 2021 assessed by Greenhouse Sustainability. "It was a comprehensive task as you need to gather data from various sources. The collaboration with Greenhouse – we were recommended to them by Royal Lemkes, with whom we have a strategic partnership – was smooth and professional. Our footprint is equivalent to that of 63 households. For a company with 150 employees, that's a good score, but we continue to search for improvements. We aim to reduce our company's footprint by 30%. With the insights from the footprint calculation, we can make targeted adjustments to reduce our footprint. For example, what would it mean if we lower the temperature in our processing room by one degree?"
Becoming more sustainable sector-wide
According to Wico, further sustainability in the sector requires collective action. "Achieving such changes in the industry is impossible on one's own. Now that several major German companies are asking for reusable plant trays, you can see that momentum is building. And the process continues. Customers not only inquire about product footprints, but we are also having more discussions about 'socially qualified certificates,' which assess growers on aspects like social equality and a livable wage."
Mandatory sustainability reporting
"With the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) guidelines that require companies to report on their impact on people and the environment by 2024, the number of inquiries from retailers is increasing. These questions often have to do with our purchased materials. We therefore hope that our suppliers will quickly start working on the points included in the guidelines, such as footprint and social aspects, so that this does not all have to be done last minute.”