Horticulture is a very diverse industry with a wide array of crops and cultivation systems. Across Europe, it makes a significant contribution to the economy and produces around 44% of the world’s flowers and pot plants. During the next fifteen to twenty years global population will continue to rise placing unprecedented pressures on natural resources. Competition for land, water and energy will intensify, compounded by the impacts of climate change which will become increasingly apparent with greater volatility in weather resulting in erratic crop yields.
Fossil fuel markets are likely to become more volatile and unpredictable, potentially impacting the availability and cost of synthetic fertilisers as well as limiting the use of certain horticultural practices. As a relatively labour intensive industry, horticulture faces a number of social challenges such as instances of worker exploitation in certain parts of the sector and the lack of young people willing to engage in an industry which is seen as challenging with low rewards.
We have a proud history of working with the horticultural community to provide the breadth of range and seasonal availability that our customers expect while minimising our impacts. Through our Farming for the Future
programme we are working with suppliers and growers to help them address the ethical, environment and economic challenges they face in order to maintain a long-term sustainable and secure supply.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead our sector in sustainable production and consumption, offering our customers the good value, high quality products and services they expect from M&S, while respecting planetary boundaries and the need for social equity.
Our goal is to ensure that all our produce is produced to the highest quality by growers that are operating sustainably. This commitment applies right across our business, wherever we trade.
Flowers and plants are very important to M&S. We source in the region of 500 million stems annually. We sell a wide selection of cut flowers, indoor and outdoor plants, bulbs and seeds. We are strong supporters of the UK horticultural industry and we take the lead in selling seasonal British flowers and have one of the largest market shares in daffodils. Our daffodils are grown exclusively for us by one grower in Cornwall and Scotland. We source UK cut flowers such as sunflowers, tulips, Gladioli and Sweet Williams from growers mostly around Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
In addition, working through key partner suppliers in the UK we source from over 50 countries in order to give our customers the best quality produce as well as a varied choice throughout the year. Our most important sourcing regions are Holland, Colombia, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. We require complete visibility down to grower level.
We have been widely recognised as a leader in supporting sustainable horticultural practices. We also actively support programmes which enhance the lives of people and communities connected with our supply chain.
Our approach to sourcing flowers and plants responsibly focuses on:
Establishing and maintaining clear minimum sourcing standards
Supporting programmes that further our understanding and build capacity within our supply chain
Supporting programmes which enhance the lives of people and communities
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.