FVPhouse organized a webinar on this topic on February 3rd entitled “Sustainability and Sustatool”. Sustainability is here to stay, and there was consensus on this among the participants. What’s more: the initial suspicion of food and management gave way to enthusiasm. “Investing in sustainability pays off,” says FVPhouse.
The European Green Deal and farm-to-fork strategy focus on sustainable production and consumption. Step by step, this translates into legislation (crop protection / marketing standards / UTP / use (re) water …). Sustainability is a benchmark for financial support in the context of post-coronavirus recovery measures. Sustainability reports are also explicitly confirmed in The Green Deal.
The experiences of fruit and vegetable companies can inspire others to take this step as well
Since 2013, FVPhouse, along with its organizations Belgapom, Vegebe and Fresh Trade Belgium, has been structurally committed to sustainability. This is done, among other things, in collaboration with the consultant Slidingdoors and with the support of MVO Vlaanderen through the “Sector Passport for Fruit and Vegetable Trade and Processing” and directs companies in preparing sustainability reports. The final part of this project focuses on Sustatool (2018-2021), a tool provided by the Flemish government to assist SMEs in developing their sustainability strategy.
During the webinar, Anuk van de Meulebruk (sliding doors) demonstrated the use of Sustatol.
A panel discussion with 3 companies from the fruit and vegetable trade and processing provided the opportunity to exchange experiences, challenges and opportunities related to sustainability reporting.
Vergro, Meulebeke’s fruit and vegetable wholesaler, pointed to customer demand that was the first motivation to get involved in the project. As questions about investing initially surfaced, this approach turned out to be profitable, even financially. According to director Dominiek Noppe, his company’s participation in this project demonstrated where it actually operates sustainably, and where additional initiatives can be developed. The sustainability report is an interesting exercise in mapping everything in an understandable way, which then allows for improvement in processes and goal setting. For Vergro, a sustainable relationship with suppliers, employees, customers, and other stakeholders is essential.
Ardooie’s frozen vegetable d’Arta has been involved in preparing sustainability reports for several years. Also for environmentally responsible Stephen Laredo, clients were asked to work with sustainability as a subject, initially in the UK. Sustainability is increasingly becoming a customer choice criterion. Stephen also noted the importance of numbers and open and transparent communication, even if things don’t always go as smoothly as hoped. Beginners are advised to start on a small scale. Sustainability is a growth process. In the future, DARTA wants to continue focusing, among other things, on reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the efficient use of water.
For Mouscron’s Mydibel potato therapist, sustainability also means a policy of giving back to nature. The remaining flows are converted into green energy and soil conditioners. Their green plant is a showcase for this. As for water use, the focus is on reuse and recycling. According to Jolien Mylle, the third generation of this family business, sustainability is the common factor in all of its business operations, and all departments are involved in the exercise. The Sustainability Report is an ideal tool for Mydibel to manage its policy and communicate with various stakeholders.
With these projects, FVPhouse wants to encourage as many companies as possible to implement sustainability step-by-step. Sustainability is a house with many rooms, for many small and medium businesses and family businesses in this sector it is not easy to address this broad topic. Initiatives like Sector Passport and Sustatool provide a good frame of reference and experience shows that one-on-one mentoring can provide businesses with the additional support needed.
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