Hivos and Albert Heijn choose sustainable flowers

May 8, 2014

Hivos and supermarket giant Albert Heijn are joining forces to create a socially and environmentally sustainable flower sector. Starting May 8, in the week before Mother’s Day, Albert Heijn will place a ‘sustainable flower’ sticker on the sleeves of all roses from Africa to let the consumer know that these roses are produced by socially and environmentally certified growers.

Hivos advocates for a larger – and for the consumer more visible – supply of sustainable (environmentally and socially certified) flowers on the Dutch market, and Albert Heijn has decided to exclusively sell “fair” flowers. This was the basis to launch a multi-year cooperation which will be reflected in Albert Heijn supermarkets.

The African roses sold at Albert Heijn are supplied by growers with certification labels such as Fairtrade and/or MPS-SQ. The roses are grown with respect for the environment and in compliance with social standards for employees. In this way, Albert Heijn is setting an example of best practices for the sector. Hivos and Albert Heijn hope that the sticker campaign serves as a catalyst for other retailers and florists to follow Albert Heijn’s sustainability approach.

Erik-Jan Mares, the director of Merchandising and Sourcing Dry Groceries, Non-Food and New Business at Albert Heijn, says, “I am proud of this collaboration with Hivos, showing how Albert Heijn puts people and the environment at the centre of our various production chains, this time by bringing extra attention to the working conditions of women in Africa. And of course, Mother’s Day presents the ideal opportunity to tell this to our customers.”

According to Edwin Huizing, managing director of Hivos, this partnership “shows that it is possible to sell ‘fair’ flowers with high visibility in the supermarket. Hivos is delighted that Albert Heijn has decided to sell only sustainably and socially certified flowers. If other retailers and florists follow their example, we can significantly improve working conditions in the African cut flower industry”.

The sticker refers to www.eerlijke-bloemen.nl, a website where the cooperation between Hivos and Albert Heijn is described and both parties explain their activities in the flower sector. Hivos and Albert Heijn are active as founding members in the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI), the international platform of businesses, governments and CSOs working together to achieve a sustainable flower sector. FSI is part of the Initiatief Duurzame Handel (IDH) – the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative.

Over the course of 2014, Hivos and Albert Heijn will broaden the cooperation to include other flowers from Africa. Furthermore, within the Hivos ‘Power of the Fair Trade Flower’ campaign, Hivos will map all retailers and florists selling socially and environmentally certified flowers from Africa. The data will be used to show consumers where they can buy sustainable flowers and will help them to consciously choose sustainable flowers over non-sustainable ones.

Hivos and Albert Heijn

Hivos is an international development organisation fighting against poverty, oppression and  discrimination. Albert Heijn, with more than 850 stores and a market share of 34.0%, is the largest supermarket brand in the Netherlands.