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Retailer Joins Cut-Flower Certification Program

by Roseanne Harper
Supermarket News

Every Valentine's Day, stories hit the consumer press about how some flower growers in other countries exploit their workers and the environment.

"Horrible conditions do exist in some places, but by and large, growers are responsible citizens who want to do what's right for their workers and the for the environment," said Ted Johnson, president, Fresh Blooms, a division of The Delaware Valley Floral Group, Sewell, N.J., the largest single-location cut-flower distributor in the country.

"VeriFlora certification will reward them for doing what is good, and it will give retailers another way to show customers they care about these things," Johnson said. "When I was in Columbia looking at growing conditions, Whole Foods was there for the same reason. It's no surprise they're involved. Ten years ago, they were on the front end of the organic movement. They were a trend leader then, and they are now."

Johnsons and Gerald Prolman, founder/president of Organic Bouquet, Mill Valley, Calif., with Whole Foods, were among the first members on an advisory committee that has worked closely with Scientific Certification Systems to develop VeriFlora. Indeed, Johnson credited Prolman, who had been evaluation green-label best practices on his own, with getting the committee together. The group includes some of the largets growers.

"I knew Whole Foods was on the same track. I talked to them and Ted Johnson and others, and then I went to SCS," Prolman told SN.

With VeriFlora's debut imminent, he has launched Forever Green Farms, a sister business to Organic Bouquet, that will wholesale VeriFlora certified cut flowers to retailers via the internet.

The fact that VeriFlora is an SCS program gives it particular credibility, sources told SN, because SCS has a 20-year track record of working effectively with supermarkets on other programs, including Nutriclean.

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