MPS, 29 years… and still counting

The story of MPS is the story of the horticultural sector. “Show how the horticultural sector deals with crop protection” was the reason 29 years ago. A sector that is now demonstrating the importance of sustainable and responsible production. Join us in the story of MPS, the story of your sector. A history that is never finished, because horticulture and MPS continue to innovate and increase sustainability. Keep following this page if you want to know how MPS continues to support the horticulture in transparent entrepreneurship, on the way to a sustainable future.

The mission of our new CEO

I think it is important…
“’To really understand how a company works and how the sector works”, says Daan de Vries. De Vries has been CEO of the MPS Group since December 2020. His goal: ensuring that MPS continues to connect with practice.


2020: everything in focus

Getting everything moving. It’s a phrase we’ve being using a lot in relation to 2020. That has much to do with 3,500 potential clients who will soon be starting environmental record-keeping. For MPS this means a turning point that will bring everything into sharp focus: our customer approach, our record-keeping system, the rates we charge.

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Dirk Hogervorst

Listening to criticism and converting it into solutions

Stefanie Miltenburg, sustainability programme manager at Royal FloraHolland, has a lot of conversations with members about the importance of transparency and certification. The market demands it and it is important to the reputation of the marketplace, the products and the industry.

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Stefanie Miltenburg

From, for and by the sector

“That’s what MPS means to me in a few words,” says Gijs Kok. Kok joined the board of MPS eight years ago and has been chairman of this board for two years.


Introduction of new registration environment

Sustainability is…
“Very important to our company. It is the image we want to project to the outside world, to our customers.” Wouter Vreugdenhil, owner of Greendreamz, is an MPS-ABC participant and talks about his experience with the MPS-ABC record-keeping environment.

In 2019, the International Corporate Social Responsibility (ICSR) covenant for the floriculture sector was signed. MPS signed this covenant to show their support. The Dutch floriculture sector, together with the Dutch government, a trade union and an ngo, have made agreements regarding more responsible international production and trade of ornamental plants.
IMVO participants
Jeroen Oudheusden and Harold Beek

Approved by the FSI

When the FSI began in 2013, it was difficult to get a handle on sustainability in horticulture. There were so many different sustainability schemes and certificates. Around 60 worldwide. And it wasn’t clear what they all stood for. FSI has changed that and growers with MPS certification are benefitting.

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In 2017 MPS, together with 13 other members of FSI, started the Chain Transparency project. We collaborated on a project resulting in a substantial reduction in the use of crop protection agents and a reduced environmental impact.


Supply chains want a clean product

MPS-A, MPS-GAP, GLOBALG.A.P. module, MPS-SQ, MPS product: Raadschelders Varens lists a whole series of certificates. Why? “It’s important to us and our customers demand it,” says owner Kelly Raadschelders. “It’s easy to get everything in one package from a single organisation with a good reputation.”

“We already started with MPS-A in 1996. We started MPS-GAP because IKEA specifically required it. We were already familiar with MPS, so we chose MPS-GAP. MPS has a good reputation and offers many different certificates. It’s simple for us to have all our audits done by a single organisation,” says Raadschelders.

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Kelly Raadschelders and her father Jan Raadschelders
Manuela van Leeuwen

MPS-Environmental-indicator really helps with Integrated Pest Management

Dümmen Orange has been producing young poinsettia plants with fully integrated herbicide and pesticide use in Ethiopia since 2018. What helps is the indication from MPS of how harmful herbicides and pesticides are. “This harmfulness may differ per country, but the MPS data is correct wherever you are.”

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In 2013, MPS first started up in Turkey. Interest in sustainable production is increasing.

Turkey is a relatively new market for production and sales of products such as flowers and plants. There are approximately 70,000 hectares of horticultural land in the country, around 5,000 hectares of which is concerned with floriculture. The majority of this is centred on the Antalya region. Due to Turkey’s strategic location, including its position as a bridge to Eurasia, it has a large market for sales. Because Europe is a growing market for Turkey and the demand for sustainably grown floriculture is increasing (and the standards required are becoming ever more stringent), there is growing interest in Turkey for sustainable production and a validated method of safeguarding standards. This is why MPS has its own coordinators in Turkey who can support growers in their own language.


MPS was made for floriculture because of its roots

Frank Zeiler witnessed the initial phase of MPS in Germany. “That start was difficult, because the Dutch name ‘Milieuproject Sierteelt’ (Environmental project Sierteelt) translated to German as ‘Umweltprojekt Zierpflanzenbau’ did not catch on, because the word ‘Umwelt’ has other meanings besides environment.”

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Frank Zeiler

BLUME2000 wants growers to continue to improve

Ina Reinders’ position as Corporate Responsibility Manager led to the creation of BLUME2000 at a time when such positions did not exist at all in Germany. It is indicative of the attitude Germany’s largest florist chain has towards sustainability.

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Ina Reinders
“Constantly competing with yourself and with others provides a continuous incentive to do even better.”

Digital transition

If there is anyone who knows the customers of MPS well, it is Angèle Mooiman. In 1998 she started at MPS as a data entry employee. That meant that she processed the growers’ consumption data by hand. The biggest change was the transition from paper to digital. How did this go and how did Angèle experience this transition?


Merger between MPS and ECAS

In 2007, the merger between MPS and ECAS was ratified by Theo de Groot (former managing director of MPS) and Ron Bleijswijk (former managing director of ECAS). The “MPS Group” saw the light of day and ECAS continued under the name MPS-ECAS. This merger was chosen so that growers only had to go to one counter for all their record-keeping and certification issues. MPS-ABC environmental record-keeping was checked by MPS-ECAS through audits and samples. The independent role of MPS-ECAS had to be monitored; this is still done by the Dutch Accreditation Council to this day. Nowadays, MPS-ECAS offers every conceivable certification for the entire horticultural chain; the one-stop-shop concept was a hit!


The inheritance of consumer label Fair Flowers Fair Plants

In 2006 Regina Dinkla stood at the birth of the sustainable consumer brand Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP). A label that didn’t make it in the end. “We were too early,” concludes Dinkla.

FFP started up in 2006 because the EU was then stimulating a sustainable consumer label for flowers and plants. In collaboration with production, trade, trade unions and NGOs, MPS received a subsidy for this. As a project leader for MPS (and later the FFP Foundation), Dinkla launched the label on the marketplace. “The idea was good: to introduce a single recognisable consumer label, guaranteeing environmentally-friendly and people-friendly production of flowers and plants. For consumers it was impossible to make any sense of the jungle of sustainability labels. This was the icing covering the top of all the underlying environmental and social labels,” says Dinkla, who was connected with the label until the end of 2011. In 2012 she made the move to Florensis (another MPS participant) which supplies propagation materials worldwide for around 4,000 varieties of flowers and plants. She is Manager of Sustainability & Corporate Communications.

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MPS has been working in Italy since 2005 and its growth has been rapid

Italian growers, particularly those growing perennials and commercial tree growers, have fully embraced MPS-ABC. Initially, this was often due to demand from the market, but later because they realised that MPS-ABC is more than just a certificate. Our regional coordinator, Antonio Fracassi, has been supporting growers there for years. From starting up record-keeping to answering a wide range of questions. Meet Antonio here.


MPS-Environmental-indicator was introduced in 2014

In 2004, MPS was already far ahead of its time. Even then, MPS-ABC was more than a certificate. Back then it was already a monitoring tool that companies can use to push the right buttons to reduce their environmental impact. This was made possible, among other things, by the MPS-Environmental-indicator, which was placed “under the hood” of MPS-ABC.

This indicator, developed by MPS, makes the environmental impact of crop protection agents measurable. Crop protection agents are classified in the categories green, amber and red, with green agents having the least impact on the environment and red the most. Effective substance use is important for this MPS-Environmental indicator: sometimes using an orange substance once is more effective and more environmentally friendly than a dozen times green.

In addition to the fact that growers can benchmark their (environmental) performance by means of MPS-ABC against fellow growers with comparable products under comparable conditions, growers can use the MPS-Environmental indicator to optimise their use of crop protection agents and thus reduce the environmental pressure and save costs.


From towering piles of forms to computerisation

Large piles of summary forms will soon be a thing of the past. The forms used to be submitted by post, through the mail room and by fax. We worked through the summary forms, one file at a time. That meant rather a lot of actions before a form was processed. In 2008 we switched completely from paper to digital; a big change, not only for us, but also for the growers. The advantage of computerisation was that processing the data faster made that data available to the growers sooner. The transfer wasn’t an easy one, but the data entry department can look back on those digital developments with a great feeling of pride.

Angele Mooiman, data entry officer

Michiel de Haan

Only ‘positive plants’ by 2030

“Our dream is to only sell plants with a positive footprint by 2030,” says Michiel de Haan, managing director of the Royal Lemkes trading company. Certificates help.

Each year, Royal Lemkes supplies over 100 million plants to 3,900 stores in 34 countries and is aiming to doubling the number of plants sold by 2030. ‘Positive plants’ means co2-neutral, minimum use of chemicals, circular packaging and with a living wage for everyone involved in the chain.

“The MPS-GAP certificate, to enable growers to supply to international retailers, was introduced in 2001. This certificate means the grower complies with requirements regarding traceability, the environment, herbicides and pesticides and recall procedures.”

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Employee at work in the wetlands that purify the water in Sher Ethiopia's greenhouse.

With MPS-SQ an eye for social conditions

MPS-ABC is also becoming increasingly well known in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia). This led to a new discussion: in addition to the environment, safety and conditions for workers within companies must also be addressed. That is why MPS-SQ, where SQ stands for Socially Qualified, was introduced in 2000.

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In memoriam Bernhard Bürgisser

A great ambassador for MPS throughout the chain

One of the most important ambassadors for MPS environmental registration was Bernhard Bürgisser. From the start he saw that MPS-ABC was more than a certificate; it was a system of which he saw the potential from the first moment.

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Bernhard Bürgisser (1947-2020): a key figure in fair trade in flowers and plants

“We've been able to introduce nuances to the image of the horticulture sector”

Kees Vis was chairman of the board of MPS for 12 ½ years and throughout this time, MPS was in discussion with environmental groups. “We felt that the message from the growers who were doing things right wasn’t being communicated properly. This is why registration was so great. It provided facts.”

His parents owned a bulb company. Personally, he worked for Hagelunie for 35 years in greenhouse horticulture and bulbs. He hadn’t even settled down to enjoy his retirement when he was asked to become chairman of the board of MPS back in 1997. “What followed was an enjoyable period, in which the board worked well together with an inspiring and enthusiastic team that wanted to spread their message everywhere.”

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Kees Vis
Environmentalists threatened to disrupt the opening of the Floriade in 2002.

International success MPS-ABC

“Promote the sector”
That was the assignment that Theo de Groot, former CEO of the MPS Group, was given in 1993. A system was developed that allowed growers to demonstrate their sustainability efforts. This was the beginning of MPS-ABC. The world was soon conquered with this system.

We won the 'Silver Wasp' Horticultural Environmental prize in 1997. A great recognition for the work we had done over the previous few years. For us, it was the result of the fact that all the auctions and organisations in the Dutch sector supported us, financed the product and wanted to roll it out further in the market.
Theo de Groot, former CEO of MPS

Using few agents follows out of love for growing plants

Tree nursery Vredebest started with MPS certification in 1996, because “spraying is not good for anyone”. Exporters ask for the certificates. Sometimes the limited choice of crop protection agents is an obstacle.

“We have been MPS-ABC certified since 1996. My father’s philosophy at the time was already: ‘Too much spraying is not good for anyone: not for the environment, the employees and the wallet’.” Conifer grower Hendrik Hak of Kwekerij Vredebest in Waddinxveen has the floor. The company has an MPS-A qualification and is also MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certified.

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Hendrik Hak
Aad van Veen

“We can't let go of MPS”

They were the first MPS participants, Aad van Veen and his father: “Wanting to be part of everything is in our nature. We want to stand out. This time also with being MPS-ProductProof.”

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Van Veen Gerbera has MPS number 150001. Why the 15? They’re address was number 15 and they also had 15,000 m2 of gerberas.

The roots of MPS

“Within a month we had 400 MPS-ABC participants”, says Harold Beek, deputy director at MPS. Beek was there from the very beginning. MPS had many successes, but not everything went without a struggle.

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