Sustainability in the Agricultural Supply Chain: What Will the Future Bring?

What role does technology play in making your supply chain more sustainable? This question was the focus of the Sustainability in the agricultural supply chain event on 11 May in Woubrugge. We addressed topics like transparency, AI and the carbon footprint.

“Can we have a bit less transparency?”
Whereas Fred Vahlkamp, founder of Certifeye, is committed to making organisations in the supply chain more sustainable and stimulating openness between the parties involved in this on a daily basis, during his session he discussed the flip side of this phenomenon. Where does one draw the line between cooperation and safeguarding confidential business information? Moreover, who guarantees the reliability of all this information? Fred: “The trustworthiness of data can be categorised in Certifeye in 3 ways, and we do this based on stars. One star equals data entered by the user, two stars for data obtained through portals, and information obtained directly from the source gets three stars.” The latter category will grow faster and faster as automatic connections with certifying bodies increase. By establishing a link between that three-star data and the operation recorded in your own basic records, for example a purchase order, it is possible to have an independent party guarantee that the delivery conforms to the specified requirements. In doing so, you don’t have to indicate which grower or other supplier you bought the goods from. So, things can be a little less transparent from time to time.

HAK’s jars
Frans Kuijpers, head of HAK’s quality department, talked the visitors through the importance of quality management during product innovations. This included the history of the organisation, whose products are a staple in the Dutch store shelves. From day one, the HAK family has focused on sustainable business practices through local cultivation, going along with seasonal vegetables and developing recyclable packaging, among other developments. The glass jars we know so well are thus the result of almost 100 years of continuous research into how to improve in terms of people and the environment. How are they tackling this in 2023? “We hire young scientists and give them plenty of room to experiment. Do they come up with an idea? Does it work? Then we implement it.”

Our “homegrown” innovations were also featured during the event. Over the past year, our software developers have explicitly been developing in the field of artificial intelligence (AI – Artifical Intelligence). Recognising logic in documents, including certificates, is a priority here. The event’s visitors were given a demonstration of CertifAI’s capabilities. In this case, an image of an MPS certificate was presented to the AI tool. The software read the image and extracts the most important data from it: the type of certificate, the MPS number, the validity dates and the scope of the certificate. The use of AI becomes increasingly important for examining and structuring data so that it can be used for CSRD reporting, for example.

Standardisation of the Carbon Footprint
Finally, Henri Potze of Greenhouse Sustainability addressed the visitors about the carbon footprint. His organisation has been working for years to help companies identify their impact on the world around them to signal where improvement is possible. This month, they took a big step towards standardising the carbon footprint based on the so-called FLoriPEFCR. These are the European calculation rules for determining such a carbon footprint. With the Flori Footprint Tool, the “Declaration Footprint Calculation” can now be published, where information about the impact of one specific product through the entire production process is shown in a clear manner. VDE Plant was the first organisation to receive and to upload this declaraction to the Certifeye Wallet. Read more about this in the article “A 1st for both VDE Plant and Greenhouse Sustainability”.

Sustainability Goals
Last year, we challenged our visitors to think about their own future and sustainability. They wrote down their goals on our sustainability goal cards and had them stored in our vault for a year. During the event, we were allowed to share the contents of two of these cards with the audience. And what was the result? Most of the goals have since been achieved! There is just one electric car still waiting to be delivered.

New cards with new goals have been stored in our vault. We wish all visitors and speakers a sustainable year which exceeds all expectations. See you in 2024!

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