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The holidays are almost upon us. Traditionally, this is a time to look back at the past year, whilst also looking ahead to the future.

For MPS, a review of 2018 leads to mixed feelings. The start of 2018 seems like yesterday, time has truly flown. On the other hand, it also seems ages ago, because so much has happened and so much has changed compared to last year.  
We have put a lot of time and effort into automating and digitising our organisation’s processes and products, resulting in a scalability that lets us properly handle the growth we’re experiencing.
Automation alone, however, is not the answer. In order to keep pace with the developments in our sector (as well as the growing and changing demands of our customers), we need an effective, skilled team. This, too, saw major investments in 2018. Strengthening our foundations has started bearing fruit and we have carefully prepared our plans for 2019. 

MPS is growing. The demand for more sustainable products in our horticultural sector is growing. The number of partnerships between MPS and other parties in the sector is increasing. Ideas for new and improved products and services are being developed, often in collaboration with others. More and more shared initiatives are cropping up, as parties link up and join forces. MPS believes in this development and is committed to being part of it. 2019 promises to be yet another busy, exciting year, in which the sector will become increasingly more sustainable.

We’re immodest enough to admit that we’re proud of what our team managed to achieve in 2018. We’re twice as proud, however, of all MPS users, who are making their businesses more and more sustainable at increasingly greater speeds. On behalf of all MPS colleagues, I would like to wish you and yours a merry Christmas and a healthy, successful 2019!


Yolande van den Boom
CEO MPS-Group
MPS in North America
Metrolina Greenhouses
MPS’s position and activities in North America have been expanded gradually since 2008. Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic and consumers are becoming more and more critical about issues such as the use of plant protection products and packaging materials. Remco Jansen (Commercial Manager at MPS) and Arthij van der Veer (North America coordinator at MPS) visited North America last week to inform retailers and growers there about developments in the field of sustainability.

Their first appointment was with AmericanHort, the largest growers’ organization in North America. During the visit, Remco & Arthij spoke to Ken Fisher (AmericanHort CEO), who, together with MPS, visited the Netherlands in February 2018 to see the Dutch best practices with regard to sustainability in the flowers & ornamentals sector with his own eyes. AmericanHort believes that MPS-ABC is the instrument that will let North America’s green sector get ready for the future. More than 30% of North America’s Top-100 growers take part in MPS-ABC, and this share is growing slowly but surely. 

 
In the first quarter of 2019, AmericanHort and MPS are set to publish a series of articles in Industry-Insider (an American trade journal). This six-part series, which will address all MPS-ABC themes, will serve to inform growers.

MPS also visited FSI members (Floriculture Sustainability Initiative), Floricultura (Salinas, CA) and Syngenta Flowers last week, as well as Seville Farms and J.Berry Nursery, in Texas. 

American retailers are also setting more and more demands with regard to the use of plant protection products, including Ahold/Delhaize in Salisbury, NC. Here, MPS gave a presentation to the Sustainability & Wellness department, who are currently developing sustainability requirements for all brands under the Ahold/Delhaize umbrella. Ahold/Delhaize is also an FSI member and is focused on implementing sustainability.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Remco Jansen at r.jansen@my-mps.com or on tel. +31 (0) 174 615 715.
 
Country focus: Turkey
 
The production and sales of flowers and plants are growing considerably in Turkey, with more and more growers exporting part of their flowers & ornamentals products to Europe. Countries such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany are key destinations for Turkish producers, with exports to these countries rising sharply over the past few years. Turkish flower and plant exports to the Netherlands jumped by no less than 32% in the first ten months of 2018, compared to an increase of 8% to Germany and the United Kingdom.
 
Sustainability and certification
In view of the sustainability and certification developments in European retail, these themes are becoming increasingly important in the Turkish sector as well. As a result, there is a growing interest in sustainable production methods and validated sustainability assurance in Turkey, which means that the demand for MPS certification in Turkey is growing steadily. In recent years, the number of MPS participants from Turkey has been on the rise: the sole MPS participant in Turkey four years ago has now been joined by 17 others.
 
“In November, MPS-ECAS carried out its annual audits again. The growers I spoke to were all very happy with our auditors. Although a few areas for improvement were identified, the growers agree that this is justified. They are now hard at work to make up for their shortcomings.”, says Raymond Scheepens, commercial manager at MPS.
 
Coordinators appointed
In August, MPS appointed coordinators in Turkey. In consultation with the coordinators, a number of meetings were scheduled for the second week of December, which saw our commercial manager travel to Turkey to inform, encourage, and motivate growers with regard to certification, as well as informing them about developments in Western Europe.
 
Together with the Turkish trade association of flower & ornamental growers, called Süsbir, and other parties, three meetings were scheduled in a single week. The first was in Antalya, a familiar city to MPS, as it is home to 14 MPS participants. A day later, we went to a meeting in Yalova, a new region for MPS, before ending in Sakarya, where a major tree grower has since joined MPS.
Ample interest
There was a lot of interest in the meetings. Scheepens: “This may also have to do with the fact that several dignitaries attended the meeting in Antalya and shared their views of the Turkish Flowers & Ornamentals sector. On top of that, two growers who have been involved with MPS for several years now told their own story, which generally improves how well the message is conveyed and received.”
 
The commercial manager looks back at successful meetings with good presentations. “The growers listened carefully and asked the MPS team many interesting questions during the Q&A session. Many growers left carrying a Turkish MPS folder, armed with more knowledge about sustainability and certification.
 
Positive about the future
Scheepens about his visit to Turkey: “We have put MPS firmly on the map in all three regions. We will be following up on this in the coming weeks and months and already have some ideas that we will be developing further. Time will tell what will happen next, but I’m full of confidence. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Turkey to check out the results of these meetings.”
 
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Raymond Scheepens at r.scheepens@my-mps.com or on tel. +31 (0) 174 615 715.

 
 
Company in focus: FlorXL
Potted plant grower FlorXL is based in Berkel en Rodenrijs and specialises in exclusive anthurium and agapanthus species. This 5-acre company is environmentally conscious, consumes little energy and has made its production methods as organic as possible, using natural enemies and organic protection products. It has had a closed-loop water system for five years now. “At that time, deciding not to discharge any water was rather progressive”, Sjef van Wijk remembers. They are currently looking into ways to make their packaging, including plant covers and trays, more sustainable.

FlorXL is a member of Decorum. The potted plant grower: “It’s a group of progressive growers who are well on their way in terms of sustainable development. They’re all modern, contemporary companies in their own right.” This year, Decorum set the goal of having all its affiliates either obtain 
or apply for MPS-GAP certification. After MPS-GAP delivery certification, the next step will be to be obtain MPS-SQ certification, which can be used to show good working conditions.

FlorXL already has its MPS-A qualification and is currently working on MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ. Van Wijk: “Everything in the company is ready for MPS-GAP. All we have to do now is wait for the audit, which has been scheduled for February. We want to be audited for MPS-SQ on the same time, which is something were still working on. 
When this is all said and done, FlorXL also wants to obtain MPS-ProductProof, which can be used to show on a product-by-product basis that certain active substances are not present and were not used during the growing process.

 
The MPS vignette; are you ready?
 
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.volgjebloemofplant.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.

You can continue to use the old vignettes until the end of this year. Starting from 1 January 2019, the old vignettes of the certificates in question may no longer be used on materials such as packaging, plant markers, etc. Click here for information.




 
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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Rabobank Westland and MPS organise meeting for Tuinbouw Jongeren Westland (TJW)
On 26 November 2018 the Rabobank ‘Sustainability in the horticulture sector’ meeting took place. Lambert van Horen (horticulture analyst at Rabo Research Food & Agri business) and Raymond Scheepens (commercial manager at MPS) were responsible for the proceedings. 

Tuinbouw Jongeren Westland (TJW) is a network for young people aged 16 to 35 who work in the greenhouse horticulture sector.

The association has more than 300 members, including both current and future entrepreneurs in the greenhouse horticulture sector, as well as employees of associated companies, such as banks, exporters, brokers and suppliers. 

TJW aims to be the leading knowledge platform for the young generation
working in the horticulture sector in and around the Westland region. 

During the meeting Raymond Scheepens explained MPS’s ambitions to improve the sustainability of the entire horticulture supply chain using verifiable transparent certification. Lambert van Horen from Rabobank added that certification is a way of helping to achieve sustainability, not a goal in itself. The role played by sustainability in financing greenhouse horticulture businesses was also examined, as well as the action being taken by the bank to facilitate sustainability improvements. 

Would you be interested in a presentation about what MPS is doing to improve the sustainability of the horticulture sector? If so, then contact Eveline van Hooren by e-mail at: e.van.hooren@my-mps.com.
What are GRASP and the GGN label?
 
Stricter retail requirements
German supermarkets such as Aldi Süd, Aldi Nord and Lidl have been working on implementing social and environmental requirements for a considerable amount of time. They have already adopted internationally recognised environmental and sustainability standards such as MPS, GLOBALG.A.P. and Fairtrade. Thus far, they had mainly focused on cut flowers, but they are now also set to include their entire range of flowers and plants. As a result, all suppliers to these companies must have a GLOBAL.G.A.P. (or a benchmarked programme, such as MPS-GAP) starting from 2019. Some supermarkets will require a GAP certification consumer label, the GGN label.
 
Requirements for use of GGN label (consumer label)
If you are a grower who wants to use the GGN label (consumer label) on your products (for example at the request of trade or retail), you must add the GRASP to your MPS-GAP certificate (this is a requirement set by GLOBALG.A.P.). If you are already MPS-SQ certified, then you will have already covered almost all of the points in the GRASP risk assessment. 

What is GRASP? 
GRASP is not a certificate, but instead a risk assessment and add-on module to GAP certification. GRASP, which stands for GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice, involves a risk assessment in relation to the social facets of a business. These include employee well-being and remuneration, as well as health and safety issues. 

The GRASP module is comprised of 11 standardised requirements and one extra QMS requirement aimed at protecting social criteria in the sector. GRASP addresses the following subjects:
- Employee representation
- Complaints procedure
- Self-declaration on good social practices and human rights
- Access to national labour law regulations
- Contracts compliant with national legislation
- Fair wages
- No child labour
- Education for any children living at a production site
- Regulated working hours
- Arrangements for collective bargaining
- No discrimination.

The practicalities of GRASP
- The GRASP module can be run at the same time as the MPS-GAP audit. 
- The assessment results are then uploaded to the GLOBALG.A.P. database, where they can be viewed by partners in the supply chain who have access to the database.
- In order to be able to use the GGN label, you need to fully satisfy the requirements of the GRASP risk assessment (100%). 
- The GRASP assessment is valid for one year.
- If you are MPS-SQ certified, you only need to ‘add’ three points, namely: (1) Employee representation (2) Complaints procedure (3) Self-declaration on good social practices and human rights 
- Bear in mind that if you are a grower who is MPS-GAP or GLOBALG.A.P./and GRASP certified and you want to use the GGN label, you will need to register via the GlobalG.A.P. website. 

Use of GGN logo
Companies wishing to include the GGN label (GLOBALG.A.P. consumer label) on their products must sign a licensing agreement with GLOBALG.A.P. and pay a licensing fee. In practice this will usually be done by the trader. For more information about using the GGN label, please send an e-mail to info@ggn.org.

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact our Service & Support team at info@my-mps.com or on +31 (0)174 615 715.
Online instructional videos for MPS-ABC registration now available in English 
 
MPS supports MPS-ABC registration and MPS-ProductProof participants, so that they can register their consumption levels as efficiently and easily as possible. 
If you use MY-MPS periodic registration or MY-MPS day registration and have any questions about this, you can now also consult our instructional videos with useful tips & tricks. You can find our (Dutch) instructional videos here. English-language instructional videos (for MY-MPS Periodic registration and MY-MPS Day registration) also went online earlier this week. 

Of course, our Service & Support team is always ready to help. You can contact them at info@my-mps.com or by calling +31 (0) 174 615 715.

 
MPS-ABC tip 
Do you want to improve your energy rating? In that case, you should use green, renewable energy sources. In contrast to the use of energy from fossil fuels, the use of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, geothermal, water) does not count towards the MPS-ABC classification.  
If you have reached the limit of your capacity for savings, but are buying fossil fuel energy (gas, non-green electricity) and would like to make improvements in this area, you should consider purchasing green energy. That would improve your score.
First ‘good environmental practice in horticulture’ day held in Paris
The first ‘good environmental practice in horticulture’ day was held in Paris last month. More than 80 participants attended the event, which was arranged jointly by MPS and Excellence Végétale, the organisation that manages the Plante Bleue certificate. The aim of the event was for participants to learn from each others’ best practices in sustainable horticulture-related innovation, while highlighting the added value of certification for the sector and demonstrating how schemes like Plante Bleue and MPS-ABC complement one another. 

Pierre de Premare, chair of the MPS growers’ association in France and Thierry Browaeys, chair of Plante Bleue, began by talking about the importance of sustainable production in tackling major environmental impact challenges.

Five technical workshops were then held on best practices related to technological developments in combating diseases and infestations (Integrated Pest Management or IMP),
innovations in disinfection, and alternatives to chemical weed killers and chemical growth regulators. Consideration was also given to the importance of MPS-ABC registration.

Mikael Mercier, chair of VAL’HOR, said that he hoped to organise this day of ‘good environmental practice in horticulture’ on an annual basis, and that he would focus even more on communicating how innovatively the sector is tackling sustainability, both in France and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact Marie-Françoise Petitjean (in English or French) (Coordination MPS France). She can be reached by calling +33 (0)9 63 53 60 21 or by e-mail at mf.petitjean@orange.fr.


 
Company in focus: Ammerlaan-Sosef
 
Last month Ammerlaan-Sosef won the Dutch Flower Award in the ‘plants’ category. The theme for this year’s Dutch Flower Awards was sustainability. 
Ammerlaan-Sosef was set up in 1999, when Ard Ammerlaan, his son Jeffrey and employee Gertjan Sosef began their partnership. The business’s annual programme involves Primula, Cyclamen and Celosia.
Each year the business produces more than 5 million plants in total, which it sells under the Decorum brand. In recent years Ammerlaan-Sosef has increasingly made use of biological plant protection products. Gertjan Sosef: “Quality and sustainability have always been paramount to us. That helps to explain why we’ve had MPS-A, MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certifications for a number of years and have been an MPS-ProductProof participant with all of our products since mid 2018. We’ve never viewed participation in MPS-ABC registration and MPS certification as an obligation. Instead, we’ve always regarded it as a good partnership and it has brought us to where we stand now.”
The MPS vignette; are you ready?
 
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.volgjebloemofplant.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.

You can continue to use the old vignettes until the end of this year. Starting from 1 January 2019, the old vignettes of the certificates in question may no longer be used on materials such as packaging, plant markers, etc.

You can find more information here.
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