How to calculate the footprint of horticultural products and respond to the increasing demand for sustainable products?

Development of 'HortiFootprint Category Rules'

The demand for sustainably produced horticultural products, like fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants, is increasing. While consumers, manufacturers and retailers want to know more about the environmental impacts of these products, until recently, there was no standard methodology for calculating them. To meet consumer and industry stakeholder demand for environmental impact information, in 2018, a project was started to develop uniform calculation guidelines to be accepted across the whole horticultural value chain and in line with European directives. On 20 July 2020 the results and the 'HortiFootprint Category Rules' (HFCR) were presented and are now available for the sector. Blonk Consultants as part of the project team, was involved as an expert and contributed to the development of the calculation rules, based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology.

Why a new footprint methodology?

Other methodologies for the calculation of environmental impacts of horticultural products such as PAS 2050-1:2012 are limited because they focus only on one impact category (climate change). To capture the full range of environmental impacts caused by the horticultural sector, it was necessary to develop a robust methodology which considered a wider range of impacts related to e.g. fertilizer use or pesticide use. A methodology which is comprehensive enough to allow whole sector alignment and easier communication of environmental impacts throughout the horticultural sector. The newly developed guidelines follow as much as possible the latest European Commission directive in the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR).

The HFCR project was initiated by Royal FloraHolland, GroentenFruit Huis (Fresh Produce Centre) and Wageningen Economic Research. Other consortium partners were MPS, ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Rabobank, Glastuinbouw Nederland and Stichting Benefits of Nature. The project was co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality through the Topsector Tuinbouw & Uitgangsmaterialen (organization for Public Private Partnerships in the horticultural sector).

Our involvement in the expert team

Blonk Consultants was part of the team of experts developing the HFCR, together with Wageningen Economic Research and PRé Sustainability. From early screening stages to the finalization of the methodology, Blonk Consultants contributed with its expertise in the agri-food sector, and its particular methodological challenges, as well as experience in the development of pilot projects for the European PEFCR.

How to apply the footprint methodology?

The report ‘Hortifootprint Category Rules: Towards a PEFCR for horticultural products’ describes the methodological rules for calculating the environmental footprint of horticultural products. The guidelines are mainly focused on LCA professionals, since certain knowledge of LCA is needed to apply the rules and assess the environmental impact. The HFCR include 16 environmental impact categories, such as climate change, land use, water use and resource depletion. It will help horticultural entrepreneurs and other players in the horticultural value chain to monitor the environmental impact, identify hotspots and find areas for improvement of the environmental performance.

Are you a grower or stakeholder in horticultural productive chain,
or are interested in LCA methodology for the horticultural sector?

More information

Get in touch

Paulina Gual
Senior Consultant | Blonk Consultants

Would you be interested in knowing more about the HFCR or how to apply the rules in your own product or supply chain? Or if you are looking for support applying the methodology for your products, please get in touch with Paulina.