A&P Flowers: “You must have a certificate if customers ask for it.”30 October 2019
Tulips, tulip bulbs and peonies. These are the three branches A&P Flowers B.V. as described by director Paul Schouten. The company is Global G.A.P. certified. What does sustainability mean to the grower from North Holland?
"In Andijk we breed tulips and peonies. We also grow and export tulip bulbs. We grow the bulbs at a different location every year, from West Friesland to Zeeland." A&P Flowers is currently expanding. The company is doubling in size, but has no intention of becoming the largest. "Our ambition is not to do more, but rather to do what we do better."
A&P Flowers is studying the best solutions to make the company more sustainable. "We currently consume little gas per stem, but we are considering switching to a so-called closed system. In which case we will need even less gas. Or perhaps even no gas. We are located in a geothermal heat area, so we are also looking at the possibilities of underground heat and cold storage. Ideally, we would not have to rely on the weather at all and would be able to grow our products in a conditioned space. That way we could shift our harvest and our staff would need to work less on the weekend. I would like to generate our own power in order to be self-sufficient." Paul also sees opportunities to make his company's greenhouses more sustainable. "We are currently growing on two layers using LED lights. We're already making efficient use of the space, but I hope to grow on six layers in about three years' time."
Since December 2002, A&P Flowers is Global G.A.P. certified. This certificate is a component of the FSI 'Basket of Standards'. This quality mark makes it possible to monitor the origin of raw materials, the deployment of personnel, and the use of crop protection and fertilisers, among other things. "I have noticed that customers are increasingly demanding this, especially chain stores and large supermarkets. You must have a certificate if customers ask for it." Paul regrets that certification does not mean a higher price for the product, but he certainly sees benefits for the company. "Given that you have to register a lot, you have better control and can monitor the quality." Paul acknowledges that this is somewhat tricky at the start. "I advise every grower to bring in an external advisor at the beginning. That's what we did, because it's a considerable job. It is important that we register everything throughout the entire sector. Everything must be traceable. It gives you faster insight when, for example, a disease is diagnosed. And, more importantly, you can also attempt to limit its damage."
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