23 May 2018

Growing demand for sustainably produced horticultural products

Environmental footprint methodology for horticulture

The demand for sustainably produced horticultural products is increasing. Consequently there is also a growing market for calculating the environmental footprints of horticultural products. While consumers and retailers want to know more about the sustainability credentials of these products, there is as yet no standard methodology for calculating them. To meet this growing demand a project was recently launched to develop a uniform standard methodology that will be acceptable across the whole horticultural value chain.

Blonk Consultants is one of the project partners working on the development of this methodology.

Importance of a uniform methodology

Most of the existing tools for calculating environmental impacts in the horticultural sector are outdated and not grounded in a standard methodology – but this is just what the sector needs. For one thing, a standard methodology is needed in order to satisfy the demands of consumers and retailers and provide clear and consistent information on the sustainability of horticultural products. For such a methodology to be successful, it has to command broad acceptance and support within the sector and among value chain partners internationally.

At the European level progress is being made on developing standards for calculating the environmental footprints of various products (Product Environmental Footprints, PEF). The horticultural sector is keen to take advantage of this process. Blonk Consultants is participating in a number of pilot studies within the European PEF project, including standards for beer, meat and animal feed, and these experiences can be used to develop a uniform methodology for the horticultural sector.

Building block: PAS 2050-1: 2012

One of the building blocks of the methodology is the carbon footprint standard for horticultural products published by the British Standard Institute (BSI) in 2012. Hans Blonk was the technical author of this document. Also, many of the elements in that standard were later incorporated into other agricultural life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies, such as the FAO LEAP Guidelines and the agricultural component of the European PEF.

In this current project the scope is being widened from a carbon footprint to a comprehensive environmental footprint and the methodology will eventually include various environmental categories, such as climate change, toxicity, water scarcity and land use.


Besides being involved in the development of PAS 2050 for horticulture and the recently completed PEFCR project for feed, beer and meat, Blonk Consultants has extensive experience with developing standards for environmental footprints. Our expertise therefore provides an excellent basis for developing a uniform methodology.

The project was initiated by Royal FloraHolland, GroentenFruithuis and Wageningen Economic Research, with co-financing from TopSector Horticulture & Starting Materials.

Besides the initiators, various other organisations are also involved in this project, including AMRO Bank N.V., LTO Glaskracht, MPS, PRé Sustainability, Rabobank and Stichting Benefits of Nature.
Read more about this project on the website of Wageningen University & Research.

More information

Do you want to know more about developing an environmental footprint methodology?
Then contact Hans Blonk via hans@blonkconsultants.nl or call +31 (0)182 579970.