Members' Council Column: “Sustainability will never disappear from the agenda”20 May 2021
When I wrote this column, we were on the eve of the extra Members’ Council meeting on 20 May 2021. This meeting was organised to do justice to the objections of the petitioners. All members of Royal FloraHolland were allowed have their say.
Digital environmental registration and certification was also
discussed. We have been occupied with this topic for quite some
time. The question is, what's stopping us from
setting things in motion, what's holding us back, what do we need?
As a sustainable grower, I am involved with this topic on many fronts; with the auction as member of the Leading Team, in the FPC Alstroemeria where I was interim chairman, with associations and boards outside the auction. You may ask yourself why I attach so much importance to this topic and why should we be busy with this as a cooperative together?
One thing that's certain in my opinion is that the future is in your hands with a sustainable company. Raw materials are becoming scarcer and we must have an answer to energy and water issues. And because I see that we as growers do many things right, but don't manage to communicate this to the outside world enough, a skewed picture of our profession arises. And that's a shame. Image is not only important for your own square metres of nursery, but for the entire sector.
Giving a bouquet of poison for Mother's Day; this still makes the headlines on an annual basis. As growers, this doesn't surprise us anymore. Evidently the media and parties like Greenpeace lap this up. But we know better as growers. We don't spray more than necessary and we don't actually heat with the windows open. We know that, but do they - the environmental activists, our customers (the consumer) and the government - know that too? We have nothing to hide, do we? So let's all make transparency our main goal.
It's time for the flower sector to have a good image.
Of course, we're all different and we run our businesses differently. Growing is a hobby for one person, while for the other it's his/her livelihood. One person works among the plants every day, while the other works more on the computer. We all take a different approach therefore. But what we all want as a sector is a good image; no grower could be opposed to that, could they? That is the reason that we all have to buckle down to make our chain transparent. It begins with digital registration, so that we can proactively show which energy we put in our products! Not because the trade wants it, not because Royal FloraHolland wants it, but because we want it as growers: selling our products with pride! And because we owe it to the generations that come after us: leaving behind a more beautiful world. Let us not forget that all of us growers together are a large group that, if we are all on the same page, can move move mountains to ensure our beautiful products find their way to the customers.
And how fine it is then that we are a cooperative with a company that stands up for everyone; that sits around the table at the certification institutes, that looked for a second supplier and that negotiated on the price. It is precisely because we are taking up the gauntlet now that there is movement in the suppliers' market. A second supplier has come along and market leader MPS has adjusted its prices downwards. I also hear the growers, of course, who say 'I'm not going to do anything yet until the trade demands it'. The commitment of the trade to visibly and transparently participate in this is very important, but let's not wait for that to happen. Let's be honest: a trader always wants to have a choice, but if we register in the same manner, nobody can ignore our products and we will maintain control ourselves.
Above all, let us keep things moving. With all the current pressure on climate change, scarcity of raw materials and nitrogen policy, it's only a matter of time before the government knocks on our doors and imposes rules. You can better be prepared for that. Fortunately, we are a strong cooperative, which is going to be at the helm and take action itself. Sustainable business is never going away now and as far as I'm concerned sustainability will also never disappear from our cooperative agenda.
Karolien Tesselaar van Tilburg
Tesselaar Alstroemeria and member of the Members' Council of Royal FloraHolland