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MPS signs statement of support for ICSR agreement
Yolande van den Boom (CEO MPS-Group)
Last week, the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk signed the International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR) Agreement for the flowers and ornamentals sector. The objective is to promote more responsible international production and trade in ornamental plants. CEO of the MPS Group, Yolande van den Boom, signed the statement of support on behalf of MPS. 

In the first year, projects will be launched to support the living wage and the impact of crop protection agents on people and the environment. The scope of the agreement covers the chains for the breeding and the production of flower bulbs, plant propagating materials, cut flowers, ornamental greenery, trees and pot and bedding plants. The Netherlands is an important hub in the international flowers and ornamentals trade. Our small country exports flowers and plants to the value of 6 billion euros worldwide and imports more than 600 million euros worth of products from Africa and more than 100 million from South America. Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Colombia are all important countries for imports. Around 600 Dutch trading companies operate internationally. The agreement was established after intensive consultations under the leadership of the Dutch Social and Economic Council. It builds on the existing Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI), a sector initiative.

Yolande van den Boom: ‘For many years, MPS has been actively trying to reduce the environmental impact that the flowers and ornamentals sector has, to make the global flowers and ornamentals sector more transparent and ultimately to make the entire sector more sustainable. In addition, MPS offers trade and social certifications. Apart from intensive collaboration with FSI, we are glad we have this opportunity to express our support for this sector-wide agreement. The demand for sustainable flowers and ornamentals products with reliable product information is growing; we can only achieve this through a sector-wide approach!’
  
The ICSR Agreement for the flowers and ornamentals sector has been signed by: The minister of Agriculture Nature and Food Quality – minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation – AFRI FLORA – Albert Heijn – Dümmen Orange – the Dutch Flower Group – Fleura Metz – Floratradeconsult – Royal Lemkes – Waterdrinker – HIVOS – FNV – Royal FloraHolland – Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands – the Dutch Gardening Sector – the Association of Wholesalers in Flower Nursery Products.

Those expressing their support include:
Chrysal – Koppert – Max Havelaar –  MPS – the Dutch Foundation for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection
Change in points allocation for the use of agents
 
The MPS-MIND methodology classifies all crop protection agents on the basis of the environmental impact they cause. Agents that have a high environmental impact are categorised as ‘red’, agents with the relatively lowest environmental impact as ‘green’, and agents in the middle of the spectrum are labelled ‘orange’. 

Standards for the use of these agents are set for each category. Given the greater environmental impact that red and orange agents have, less of these agents may be used compared to green agents. In practice we have seen a decrease in the use of red and orange agents in recent years, and an increase in the use of green agents. As a result, a group of participants has exceeded the upper limit for the use of green agents, creating a negative score for this component. 
To get a good MPS score, growers must use less green and more orange and/or red agents. This feels as though it is going against all the principles. To take this into account, MPS has decided to do away with the negative points for using green agents.
 
This measure influences the score and the qualification of a small percentage of MPS-ABC participants. These participants will see the difference in the number of points obtained, starting with the qualification for Period 7.
 
It is important to mention that this is a temporary measure. Improving the current MIND methodology, to make it more future proof, is high on the MPS agenda. This could lead to participants who now have an advantage because of this change seeing their points for comparable consumption falling in the future.

For more information, please contact Martine Holtkamp at m.holtkamp@my-mps.com
MPS-ABC qualification as a new participant
 
MPS is regularly asked whether new participants start at MPS-C level. This is not the case. The MPS-ABC qualification is calculated based on the use of agents during the previous year. To be granted a qualification, the participant has to register its use over an entire year. In addition, the participant has to successfully complete the initial audit. The participant is registered as ‘Non Qualified’ between the time its joins MPS-ABC and obtaining a qualification. After completing the initial audit, the participant is awarded a C, B, A or A+ qualification based on its usage data.

So it is not true that new participants start at MPS-C level!
MPS has now passed the 50 countries milestone
 
MPS has a global presence. There are now MPS-ABC participants in 51 countries. Our latest MPS-ABC participants are located in: Algeria, Lithuania, South Africa and Suriname!
Company focus: Newday Farms Turkey
Since it was founded in 2018, Newday Farms, a Turkish company, has already planted 520 trees in exchange for selling carnations. Production and profit are not their only and most important goals; sustainability, rights for employees and traceability are given just as much priority. Their MPS-A score is an important factor in this. Seval Öz, founder and co-owner of Newday Farms: ‘For us, MPS-ABC is the basis of sustainable production from the seedling through to the packaging of the product.’

MPS-A score as ‘green’
After successively recording thirteen consecutive periods, Newday Farms was immediately classified as MPS-A. ‘From the get-go, sustainability was at the top of the list and we aimed to minimise the use of fertilisers and pesticides,’ the owner tells us. ‘Using the MPS-ABC system, we have been able to examine and analyse our use of pesticides and fertilisers. This has had a major, positive impact on our use and selection of certain agents.’ 

‘As a company we also feel our social responsibility and so we contribute to social projects. We work with environmental organisations and NGOs, and we plant forty to fifty trees every month in exchange for the number of flowers we sell,’ Öz explains. Customers are regularly sent an update of the number of trees planted. Öz: ‘We send customers certificates of the trees we have planted with their names on them. This is how we hope to invest in a sustainable future in this way.’
Turning point
Through MPS-ABC membership, sustainability as an ideal is not kept secret: an MPS-A score is international proof that our participants’ production is sustainable. ‘Sustainable production is important to our buyers, and often it is also a condition for delivery,’ Öz points out. What’s more, the processes in the company have become a lot more efficient thanks to MPS-ABC, which means they have better control over costs. ‘We have been able to analyse the production process better. I personally learned a lot from MPS-ABC; my management skills have improved a great deal. The certificate was the turning point for me to organise my work more efficiently.’

Of course the company still makes mistakes, but not many. ‘What helped was the way MPS explained the philosophy and purpose behind MPS-ABC. And thanks to this, we don’t make many mistakes. MPS also takes domestic regulations into account and we are given advice so that we can continue to grow as far as sustainability is concerned.’

Should you have any questions, please contact Raymond Scheepens: r.scheepens@my-mps.com
Seval Öz

If you have any questions, please contact the MPS Service & Support team in The Netherlands at:
T. +31 174 615700
E. info@my-mps.com

This newsletter is given in good faith by MPS.
MPS cannot assume any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the information contained in these newsletter.

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MPS strives to make the flowers & ornamentals sector more sustainable in a transparent, quantifiable way. We predict that Credible Record Keeping in particular will become more important in the near future, and after 2020, initiatives like the FSI will simply demand it. 

In this Newsletter, we will delve into the FSI’s current and future (post-2020) developments, and take a look at how MPS-ABC participants are already meeting these future requirements now. The FSI is introducing a new, third basket, centred around Credible Record Keeping.
We are proud that MPS is now already prepared for the post-2020 FSI plans, and that MPS-ABC has been included in the latest FSI basket. 

On top of that, MPS is constantly undertaking improvements to its own processes and products, such as the MPS-ABC registration tool aimed at facilitating Credible Record Keeping. We are working hard to optimise this tool’s user-friendliness and requirements for the near future. More information will follow in the next Newsletter.

Yolande van den Boom (MPS Group CEO)
FSI2020: Current state of affairs and the way forward after 2020

FSI objective
The FSI is a network organisation of various parties and NGOs that are working together towards a more sustainable Flowers & Ornamentals sector. MPS is involved in this network as part of its ambition to reduce the impact of crop protection products throughout the chain, and to unite parties in working together to make sustainability efforts more transparent. The objective of the FSI is to ensure that 90% of all products traded by its members are purchased and traded sustainably by 2020.

Current state of affairs
The latest measurements based on the 2017 figures indicate that the FSI has achieved approximately 60% of its objective. Jeroen Oudheusden (FSI Programme Manager): “We still have a lot of catching up to do in the future, but you can clearly see an enormous increase in awareness in recent years, which has also led to more action. More and more companies are recognising the usefulness and necessity of certification; it has now become indispensable. Not only for guaranteeing transparency, but also for securing your own processes and improving your company.” 
Jeroen Oudheusden
Certification
Certification is not a goal in itself but a means to an end. Oudheusden: “Make sure your crop registration is in order. By securing your processes and comparing validated data, you can also monitor the progress of fellow growers who grow the same product in the same way, and see how you stack up. Growers who choose not to participate in secured crop registration (by means of MPS-ABC, for instance, ed.) are simply depriving themselves of an opportunity to learn. All growers who do not have their affairs in order and fail to be sufficiently transparent pose a risk to the entire sector and will soon no longer have any business in the sector at all; sustainability has become absolutely essential.” 

Overarching approach
In order to achieve the FSI objective, the sector must intensify and accelerate its transition to sustainable practices. The only way this can be done is by adopting an overarching approach. Oudheusden: “Growers, traders and retailers have to provide insight into their sustainable products; this will allow growers to stand out and traders to target their purchasing. In the long term, certified products should become a basic prerequisite for any marketplace.” 

After 2020
The FSI ‘Basket of Standards’ currently consists of a list of international certificates that meet FSI criteria in one or both of two categories – social and environmental. 

The environmental basket is set to be split into a ‘Good Agricultural Practices’ basket and a new, third ‘Environmental’ basket. After 2020, Credible Record Keeping will become a prerequisite for inclusion in this third basket with its environmental scope. There are currently three scheme owners in the world who have indicated that they will satisfy the FSI criteria after 2020; Kenya Flower Council Silver Standard, Florverde Sustainable Flowers, and MPS-ABC/MPS-GAP/MPS-SQ). Oudheusden: “It is essential to make sustainable development transparent and quantifiable in every way; only then can we start taking steps towards reducing environmental impact.”  
 
For more information about FSI2020 and Credible Record Keeping, please contact Eveline van Hooren at E.van.Hooren@my-mps.com. 
New FSI 'Basket of Standards'
FSI members
   Van der Hoorn Orchids receives MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certification during Orchid Inspiration Days 2019
Maurice van der Hoorn
During the third edition of the Orchid Inspiration Days , Maurice van der Hoorn of the Van der Hoorn Orchids nursery received his MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certification. Prior to this, Van der Hoorn Orchids had already been MPS-A+ certified, in addition to participating in MPS-ProductProof. 

Van der Hoorn Orchids has always been a pioneer in the field of sustainability. Since 2006, Van der Hoorn has been growing its orchids in a gas-free greenhouse, with 80 different species currently being cultivated in a greenhouse heated to 28°C by energy extracted from the soil. During the summer, this energy is also stored underground, reducing overall energy consumption by 40%.

Van der Hoorn, speaking about his new MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certificates: “MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ deal mainly with internal business processes, traceability, safety and good working conditions. We already had all these elements in order, but this certification provides increased security. The associated audits will also keep us on our toes.” Asked whether the certification has led to an increase in paperwork, his brother Joris responds: “Apart from the fact that we’ve already been a pioneer in sustainability for years, I think we’re also making a lot of progress on ICT. MPS-GAP itself includes a digital handbook; however we’ve integrated this handbook and all the other MPS schemes into our ICT system, so that all the processes and ‘workflows’ run almost automatically. This allows us to continue raising our standards in every single way.” 

During the Orchid Inspiration Days, which run till 13 June, traders from all over the world will visit Van der Hoorn’s nursery and 13 other participating companies. 
Joris en Maurice van der Hoorn
MPS-ABC Tip
 
You can earn 10 points in MPS-ABC by recycling and disposing of waste responsibly. Organic waste, paper/cardboard, plastic and chemical waste all need to be processed and/or disposed of responsibly. 

Company focus: Queen Denmark
Best Practices thanks to-MPS certification

Nursery and family business Queen Denmark has participated in MPS-ABC since 1997 and is a real frontrunner in the field of sustainability. Queen is the world's largest kalanchoe grower and is MPS-A, MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ (Socially Qualified) certified.

Queen’s 120,000 m2 nursery is located in Denmark, and it also has a 100,000 m2 facility in Turkey and a 65,000 m2 facility in Vietnam (contract production), which mainly grow mother plants and starter materials. Queen is also MPS-ABC certified in these countries. In the Netherlands, Queen CutFlowers has a 40,000 m2 contract production facility. 

Queen has had a stable high monthly score in the MPS-ABC registration since 1997. MPS spoke to owner and CEO Frands Jepsen about Queen’s best practices in the field of sustainability and how they are maintaining their MPS-A status through continued improvement, particularly since the qualification standards are also regularly being raised.  

 
                                                                                                                                          Frands Jepsen 
Crop protection agents
Queen minimises the use of crop protection agents by using biological methods that not only combat diseases and pests, but also create a pleasant working environment for employees. Frands Jepsen: “This choice was made for both environmental and rational reasons, because kalanchoes simply do not tolerate most pesticides.”
 
Banker plants
One of Queen’s most important methods is to use banker plants, which they produce themselves. "Banker plants are simply wheat sown in pots. A specific aphid species with a preference for grass is then introduced. These aphids will not attack the kalanchoes, but stick to the banker plants instead, where they function as a kind of oasis for small parasitic wasps that eat the aphids”, says Ajs Dam, who is responsible for biological control at Queen. “The parasitic wasps bite the aphids and lay an egg that grows into a new wasp. The more wasps, the better – they are our very own sustainable little helpers, because they eat the aphids that would otherwise infect our kalanchoes. This process allows us to create a natural balance in our greenhouses and keep our use of chemicals to a minimum. In addition to making our production more sustainable, it also means our employees can enjoy a much healthier workplace,” Ajs Dam explains.
 
Other examples of biological control include the introduction of Hypoaspis mites to the soil to combat caterpillars and various types of insect eggs. A wide range of other initiatives are also being implemented and tested at the moment.
Energy
“Our well-insulated greenhouses and low-energy lighting have significantly reduced our energy consumption. In addition to other initiatives to improve our energy efficiency, we are now investigating how to store excess summer heat for use during the winter. Furthermore, Queen has managed to boost its MPS-ABC energy scores by using solar panels,” says Jepsen.
 
Water
Queen’s water management methods also score it points in the MPS-ABC system. Jepsen: “Biological sand filters enable us to treat and recycle water used to fertilise the soil. A 9,000 m3 rainwater tank meets all our irrigation needs, minimising our impact on the local water supply. Rainwater is also most suitable for our plants as it’s free of sodium and chloride.
 
Waste and recycling
On top of that, Queen varieties boast the highest ethylene resistance in the market, with benefits such as increased shelf life, less waste and enhanced ornamental value. Jepsen: Queen trades with market-leading retailers all over Europe. We guarantee 25% better sales than other suppliers as well as 50% waste reduction, in particular because of our products’ longer shelf life.”
Japanese delegation visits MPS participants
   Van der Hoorn Orchids
Last week, a delegation of companies from the Japanese flowers & ornamentals sector visited the Netherlands to learn more about our best practices in the field of sustainability and to find out how companies throughout the chain use MPS tools for continued improvement and sustainable development. 

Supply Chain
The delegation visited companies active throughout the supply chain, from a company producing starting materials and a nursery, to a trader/packer and an auction. 

After visiting Royal Flora Holland, they were given a guided tour
at Royal van Zanten. Here, they received an in-depth explanation of breeding techniques and viewed a demonstration of sustainable innovations. Maurice van der Hoorn (Van der Hoorn Orchids) gave a presentation about his Gas-free Greenhouse, and at Bloom (Dutch Flower Group) the delegation were able to view the end of the supply chain with a tour of the company’s efficient logistical processes. Bloom specialises in marketing high-quality cut flowers. 

To find out more about MPS activities in Japan, please contact Remco Jansen. E-mail: R.Jansen@my-mps.com
                                   Testroom at Bloom                                                                           Royal Van Zanten
Are you all ready for the uniform MPS vignette?

The uniform MPS vignette was introduced on 23 August 2017. This vignette replaced a multitude of MPS vignettes and logos that had been used in the flowers & ornamentals sector up to that time. Together with the interactive platform www.followyourflowerorplant.nl/en, the uniform MPS vignette contributes to uniform working methods and product labelling for products by MPS-certified companies, as well as offering transparency to consumers.

The old vignettes could be used until 31 December 2018. However, as of 1 January 2019, the old vignettes of the corresponding certificates may no longer be used on materials, such as packaging, plant markers, etc.


 

If you have any questions, please contact the MPS Service & Support team in The Netherlands at:
T. +31 174 615700
E. info@my-mps.com

This newsletter is given in good faith by MPS.
MPS cannot assume any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the information contained in these newsletter.

MPS innovates, motivates, facilitates and makes sustainability more transparent and measurable