Danny van Uffelen: “The entire sector benefits from clear sustainability-related communication.”
The Flower Council of Holland recently organised two roundtable sessions on sustainability. These discussions focused on sustainability-related issues and sector sustainability, and were attended by both plant and flower growers. Other topics included the public role of horticulture, certification and innovations. One of the participants was Danny van Uffelen, marketing manager at the chrysanthemum company Zentoo.
The first step in pursuing sector sustainability is to formulate an ambition. Van Uffelen explains, “Together with a growers’ cooperative of 14 growers, we have spent over a year defining concrete sustainability-related steps and figuring out who and what is needed to achieve them. We are examining which steps are feasible, how we can learn from each other, how we can work together with suppliers and customers, and how we can then communicate about all of our efforts to the outside world. At the end of the day, the entire sector benefits from clear sustainability-related policy and communication.”
Sector interests first
It is anything but easy to find the right path in these sustainability-related steps. “Besides individual success stories, the success stories of the sector as a whole are also important. Collaboration is essential when doing so, because it is all about the perceptions of consumers as well as society in general,” says Van Uffelen.
The invitation from the Flower Council of Holland was therefore perfectly timed. During the roundtable session, it became apparent that a shared approach is needed to sustainability-related communication. This will help to prevent messages from becoming fragmented. The Flower Council can play a unique role in this by developing communication themes that can be shared with consumers.
An abundance of success stories
Van Uffelen is curious about the results of the recent consumer survey on sustainability, which was carried out by the Flower Council of Holland. “At the end of 2022, the total footprint was not the most important factor for consumers. What about now? Public sentiment about sustainability and flowers and plants continues to be very positive. We can maintain this with good stories and concrete examples. And there is an abundance of both.”
He refers to the October 2022 survey as an example, which showed that consumers were particularly critical of chemical pesticides and non-sustainable packaging. “Tremendous progress has been made in both areas. The total environmental impact of pesticides has been reduced by 82% in 15 years' time. This will be reduced to almost 0% in the coming years. The same applies to sustainable packaging. The introduction of a deposit system for casks and reusable boxes has helped to boost sustainability-related efforts. These stories are ready to be shared.”
The roundtable session on sustainability was valuable for Van Uffelen because the participants varied greatly. “Besides large and small players from the market, there was also an organic grower, for example. This is essential because, as mentioned earlier, we need to make the transition together. We need to learn from and support each other in this shared journey towards sector sustainability.”
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