1. How would you describe sustainability at Gemüsering?
Sustainability has been practised in the company for years. In 2017 we began to implement a management system for this area, in order to document the measures, goals and achievements, and to make them verifiable to third parties. We are proud to have been able to be the first company from the fruit and vegetable sector to be able to prove this with ZNU standard certification in 2017. We have also expanded the number of standard-certified locations from 3 to over 10 by the end of 2020. And more locations will be added in the years to come.
2. What is the scope of your work?
In addition to supporting and coordinating our own locations with regard to ZNU certification, the focus of my activities is partly on communicating the requirements to our producers and suppliers, and partly talking with customers and standard setters to ensure our company and the products we trade take into account social requirements.
3. What sort of work do you do for the company?
Successful work hinges on the creation of the acceptance of changes, an open dialogue on very different subject areas, and the willingness of everyone to make suggestions on which way the company should go in the future. These changes have to be supported by the employees, otherwise they will not successfully take root within the company.
4. What skills do you use to support our producers and customers?
Through a continuous dialogue with associations, participation in various committees and ongoing monitoring of current developments, we are able to prepare producers and suppliers for changing conditions in good time and offer them assistance. Together with our customers, we develop joint projects relating to the field of sustainability, convey their requirements and see through their implementation.
5. What do these projects look like?
The projects could be, for example, about practical measures to promote biodiversity by creating suitable flowering areas and small biotopes along the fields or at the production sites. As part of a new project, this year we have been dealing with measures to promote soil quality and maintain soil fertility for future generations. Last but not least, we deal with reducing packaging and increasing the recyclability of the packaging used, as well as improving working conditions at the production sites. Maintaining a dialogue with the producers, customers and external partners, including those from a science and research background and environmental associations, is important in all of these projects.
6. Which current sustainability issues are of particular importance for the production and marketing of fruit & veg?
We are currently in one of the most exciting times for the production of fruit and vegetables, as changes are noticeable in a wide variety of ways. First and foremost here is climate change, as this leads to adaptations in cultivation and also has effects such as increased water shortages during the summer months. In addition, the preservation and promotion both of biodiversity and good soil is of enormous importance for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.
It is also important to find solutions for preserving product quality after harvest. Here, innovative packaging can make an important contribution towards reducing food waste. And more and more commitment is needed to find and retain motivated employees. That’s why creating attractive workplaces and treating employees well has become increasingly important in recent years.
7. What constitutes sustainability work in fruit & vegetable marketing?
First and foremost, it’s foresight. We have to act with foresight and create solutions today that will make the cultivation of fruit and vegetables interesting and economically viable in the decades to come. We also need to shelter production from criticism that is not always justified so that our producers can enjoy a successful future doing wonderful work with our products.