Right rewards

A fair reward to the breeders of new varieties, and the income to ensure that they can continue in their work. A level playing field for propagators and growers, with one set Plant Breeders’ Rights fee for every single plant. These are what royalty payments for vegetatively-propagated plants of a protected variety are about.

 For around 300 breeders across a wide spectrum of genera, Royalty Administration International, an international leader in its field of activity, makes the payments system work.

Based in ‘s Gravenzande in the Netherlands, and founded in 1984, RAI has branches in Colombia, Japan and the USA. Maarten Leune, managing director, joined the business in 2001, and was previously a director of a chrysanthemum breeding company. He leads a team of thirty employees altogether, working worldwide. He says that it is their expert knowledge of the trade in vegetatively-propagated ornamentals, coupled with their outstandingly wide network of contacts, that drives the success of Royalty Administration International.

The company can help breeders at every step on the way to receive the rewards of their efforts. Obtaining the grant of Plant Breeders’ Rights, advising on marketing and on setting royalty fee levels, and making licensing agreements with propagators – all these are services provided by RAI. It is currently party, on their clients’ behalf, to around 3,500 tailor-made licensing agreements.

Once Plant Breeders’ Rights have been granted for a new variety, RAI makes sure that the royalty fee fixed is paid for every plant. The company’s field representatives and agents make around 4,500 visits annually, enabling them to keep full track of all movements of material of all the varieties for which RAI has undertaken responsibility.

During a visit to a propagator or grower all records of receipt and dispatch will be inspected. So will the ongoing production on the ground, not only of what the propagator or the grower shows to the visitor, but also of activity elsewhere within the business.

The aim is of course to prevent illegal propagation, and the existence of the system of inspection exerts a very positive pressure in itself. Only in a small minority of visits is anything irregular found. When it is, very often it is found that simple mistakes have led to the incorrect reporting of dispatches, deliveries and plant numbers in production.

Around 99% of problems found are resolved on the spot, says Maarten Leune. Where there has been intent to avoid payment of royalty fees, the co-operation of the offender is sought in agreeing to accept a penalty, plus of course the full payment of the royalties due. Depending on circumstances, the destruction of stock may be enforced.

In recent years DNA fingerprinting has often resolved disputes. It is rarely necessary to enter into legal proceedings, but this is undertaken as a last resort. Breeders involved have full support from the RAI.

Quite how successful the company has been through its 34-year history is well proven by the increasing number and diversity of its clients. They range from specialist micro-breeders working on a single species to large companies with a wide range of breeding activities. Clients’ portfolios embrace cut flowers, pot and bedding plants, perennials, shrubs, bulbs, vegetables and fruit. Chrysanthemum is commercially the most significant of all, with almost all major breeders of the flower represented by Royalty Administration International.

Author John Sutton

Quito

That very combination of words describes a land where some of the most beautiful Roses are born, raised and shipped.

The physical attributes of Quito make it one of the perfect places in the world to grow the very best large roses and other floral products as well. Situated at nearly 10,000 (9,350’) above sea level the sunlight is intense, and the temperature is just right for growing roses.

Ecuador entered the flower business about ten years after the Colombians who proved that growing and exporting flowers was a viable enterprise. They took the best techniques and practices learned from their competitors across the border and ended up being the second largest producer in South America.

Quito is a beautiful city surrounded by approx. 50 volcanos. 7 are still active and occasionally raise their voices for all the world to hear.

A curious thing about Ecuador is that the national currency is the US dollar making it easy for Americans to travel there.

The Ecuadorian growers from the very beginning focused on large headed roses and the very newest varieties on the market. This paved the way for exports to mainly Russia and Europe where these huge flowers could demand a handsome price. This prosperous market allowed the floral entrepreneurs of Quito to expand rapidly and grow they did.

As many are now aware, the Russian market changed for the worse in 2008 leaving the Ecuadoreans scrabbling to find new markets. The North American market which had grown very comfortable with Colombian Roses was the likely target for Quito growers.

As a result, the Ecuadorean growers started showing up at events catering to the US market looking for new territory. The growers have had to adjust to this market as the Americans were not so accustomed to the baseball sized heads of these roses and the high price needed to secure them.

With that said, many Ecuadorean growers have made their mark on the US/Canadian markets despite an additional 6% Import duty specifically on roses (into the US).

The Ecuadoreans have been trying to outgrow their Colombian counter parts and this year the Ecuadorean Floral Association Expoflores has decided to host their own floral show in Quito

“Flor Ecuador”. This show is a new event that is a spinoff from the Agriflor show held there for the last 15 years hosted by HPP.

With two shows to attend this year there will be a great deal of activity surrounding these events during the month of September.

The growers in Quito and the surrounding areas have made great progress in sustainability and environmental controls which have turned many a grower into a mad scientist cooking up herbal concoctions in their labs to reduce the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

The floral landscape in Quito is a fluid one where the big growers are getting bigger by acquiring farms that could not manage to stay afloat. Like many industries growers must continue to improve operations and be super-efficient or as the saying goes “get big or go home”.

Author: William Armellini

Ecuador

Historically, Ecuador has been a country with a reasonable level of plant variety protection and a court system that provided a reasonable basis for the enforcement of IP rights.

The legal basis for the protection of plant varieties is Decision 345 which dates back to 1997. This decision creates a system of plant variety protection for the countries of the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela). Decision 345 provides for the national implementation of the Andean rules with the incorporation of the essential elements of the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention (even though formally Ecuador has so far chosen to accede only to the 1978 Act).

Under Decision 345 plant varieties could be registered with the IEPI: Instituto Ecuatoriano de la Propiedad Intelectual (Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property). However, as part of efforts to “update” the IP regime in Ecuador, a Presidential Decree has been issued which renames the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property to the National Service for Intellectual Rights. It is unclear whether the name change is good news for breeders.

New IP laws

Since 2016 Ecuador has become a worrisome territory when it comes to the protection of plant varieties. In December 2016, a new set of IP laws entered into force: the “Code for the Social Economy of Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation”, published on December 9, 2016. This code repeals and replaces Ecuador’s previous national intellectual property law.

Some legal commentators have claimed that the new laws are not decisive in regard to the protection of intellectual property because as a member of the Andean Community, Ecuador continues to be bound by the relevant Andean rules, such as Andean Decisions 345 in respect to plant varieties. These Andean rules, in addition to other treaties and international conventions on IP to which Ecuador adheres, would take precedence over local law.

National level

Nevertheless, on a national level, Ecuador now has legislation which aims to primarily protect the national interests and the local workforce in the plant industry and may be considered fairly extraordinary from an international IP perspective:

  • Plant variety rights in regard to varieties developed under contract belong to the employer. However, a breeder who is involved in the creation of a new variety and who works on the basis of an employment contract is entitled to a percentage of ownership no less than 25%.
  • Even workers who are not specifically contracted to exercise intellectual activity for obtaining breeders’ rights created under an employment relationship, may qualify to obtain co-ownership of PVRs.
  • Under the new code, the term of protection for a national PVR is reduced to 8 years in the case of vines, as well as forest, fruit and ornamental trees, and to only 15 years for all other varieties.
  • The new Code provides for increased options for obtaining compulsory licenses, which may be granted for reasons of public interest, emergency or national security. The idea is that this would lead to a broadened scope for compulsory licensing. Even though compulsory licensing should lead to equitable compensation for the breeder/rights holder, this option for growers and breeders is expected to weaken the protection afforded to new varieties of plants.

Memorandum of Understanding

With the goal of working towards an improved utilization, protection and enforcement of IP rights, Ecuador entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States in 2017. The MOU is meant to serve as a basis for cooperative activities between the two countries but it is doubtful whether this objective can be met.

In addition, enforcement of IP against widespread counterfeiting and piracy remains weak. Ecuador also lacks effective measures to deter illegal growing of protected varieties. Regarding the Organic Code on Social Economy of Knowledge, Creativity, and Innovation (Ingenuity Code), Ecuador is reportedly in the process of developing and implementing regulations. Stakeholders have raised concerns about how these regulations will address issues, such as the scope of certain exceptions and limitations to protectable subject matter. Another area that has considerably weakened is the combat of widespread counterfeiting and piracy. Therefore, the country needs to make greater efforts to improve its IP enforcement procedures, to provide for customs enforcement on an ex officio basis and to promote more effective means of securing ex parte seizures.

Author: Tjeerd Overdijk

South America

The South American continent is more than 7500 kms long (north to south) and 5100 kms wide at its widest point. The highest mountain (Aconcagua) is almost 7000 meters above sea level. You’ll find almost all climates in South America, from desert to permafrost. It is, therefore, the optimal place to grow all types of flowers. However, only two countries have a fully developed floral industry: Colombia and Ecuador, respectively the second and third exporting countries in the world, which in the last few years, together with Kenya and Ethiopia, have eroded substantial market share from the Netherlands.

 Though there are plenty of flower shops and stands around Bogota and Quito, floral production is geared towards export.

As with all export markets, including the floral market, there are many factors that influence the health of the industry and the sum of these factors has contributed to the success of these countries.

If you consider the proximity to consumer markets, you will understand why Colombia was the first South American floral market to develop. The United States is nearby and has a well-developed market. Additionally, the abundance of frequent flights to Europe are an important asset.

Local conditions are another important factor in explaining why Ecuador, with its seemingly eternal spring, is perfect for growing roses and many ‘summer flowers’.

Both local and worldwide economies also play a crucial role for South American growers as witnessed by the substantial revenue loss during the economic crisis.

What about politics? This can influence the reciprocal relationship between both importing and exporting countries. For example, an agreement on duty-free export often correlates to a sizeable competitive advantage in the global marketplace. In the past few years, rose exports from Ecuador to the USA were hit hard when Julian Assange was granted asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in London in 2012 and when  Edward Snowden requested asylum in 2013.

Another factor is the exchange rate which can change suddenly from one day to the next. If you had visited the Ecuadorian rose farms a few years ago, you would have seen that the longest, biggest and top-quality roses were reserved for Russian clients. When the Russian rouble suddenly dropped, many growers found themselves in big trouble and had to change their production to a lower quality product.

South America has increasingly become an important market for breeding companies, whether they sell  directly or through representatives, not only due to the issue of plant breeder’s rights, but also for testing new varieties. Columbia and Ecuador also have powerful Grower’s Associations (Asocolflores and FlorEcuador) with substantial lobbying influence on their governments.

However, even with all of these positive factors, poor weather can heavily influence production which occurred in March 2017 in Ecuador.

What about other South American countries? They are not amongst the top export countries for several reasons: either the majority of their production is for domestic consumption, or their agriculture is not fully developed. In some cases, they simply have weak relations with high consumption countries.

Lastly, we would like to acknowledge the Holambra municipality in the Campinas region in Brazil where a small group of Dutch immigrants from the Brabant region founded a community immediately after World War II. They are now the leading flower producers and exporters in Brazil.

 

Author: Aldo Colombo

Italian horticulture

Italy is a country with a great ornamental horticulture tradition. Few today remember that the grafting of roses was invented by the Romans while there was large-scale cultivation of roses at the time in Pompeii. In fact, importing cut roses, especially from Egypt in the winter, was too expensive for the Romans. Roman ships did not sail in the winter; there was only one ship from Egypt that reached Rome in December: “the ship of flowers”.

These days roses are imported to Italy mainly from Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador and India, very often through Holland, which is the most advanced country in terms of marketing and logistics in floriculture.

In recent years, the Italian ornamental sector has seen enormous changes. Due to the economic crisis and the occasional lack of technical and managerial preparation, many companies have folded. The cut flower sector suffered the most. The reduction of available land for cultivation and the number of companies was heavily impacted. Due to poor profits, many small companies have returned to producing vegetables. However, several companies have specialized further, especially in the cultivation of Ranunculus, Papaver, Chrysanthemums and even specialty rose production (Smeralda, in Sardinia, roses with berries, scented roses, etc.)

Regions

The leading regions for cut flowers are Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.

Production of ornamental potted plants has remained stable as have prices, whereas available quantities have increased slightly. The most important regions for the production of pot plants and bedding plants continue to be Liguria (with the plains of Albenga), Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany and Puglia. The province that has grown production the most in recent years is Latina (Lazio).

The production of pot plants that the Italians call “Mediterranean plants” is increasing. In this category there are potted citrus, with Sicily being the number one region in Europe for its production. Sicily is still the leader in the production of palms (Kentia, Chamaedorea, Phoenix, Cycas, etc.). Another important region is Puglia with its high-quality Mediterranean plants which are mainly exported.

Economic crisis

Even the garden plant sector has suffered from the economic crisis with failing large companies. However, the situation has been improving since the autumn of 2017. The most important region for garden plants continues to be Tuscany, with the city of Pistoia at the forefront of production, followed by Lombardy, Veneto, Puglia and Sicily. As for fruit nurseries, the most important region is Emilia Romagna, while for vegetables it is Campania.

Floriculture in Italy is worth more than 2.5 billion euros; of which 1.15 billion euros come from the production of flowers and pot plants. There are 27,000 companies involved in the sector,  with a total 100,000 workers and almost 29,000 hectares of agricultural land overall. As for young ornamental plants, roughly 2,000 companies are involved utilizing ​​over 1,500 hectares.

Author: Arturo Croci

Innovation

FitzGerald Nurseries in Ireland have received awards and accolades for innovation, and their growth and success is evidence that this recognition is well placed. But what is it about the business that is innovative?

Pat FitzGerald, founder and managing director, confesses that he gets personal enjoyment from involvement in plant breeding, particularly the EverColor® range, but that it takes more than new products to be innovative. “Winning the All-Ireland Business Innovation Award in 2011”, says Pat, “made us think, well, yes, we do do things differently.” Significant changes to production systems run as parallel innovations to new product development.

Micro-propagation

Expanding their production systems into micro-propagation in 2005 enabled FitzGerald Nurseries to rapidly build up new lines. Although there does need to be a variety-by-variety approach to setting up systems, micro-propagation certainly contributed to expansion of international sales. FitzGerald Nurseries now supplies more than 26 countries.

Another significant change to their production systems was made in 2017, just over a decade later. FitzGerald Nurseries implemented a strategy of strict quarantine measures. No plants except mother plants for new varieties are now brought into the nursery. This strategy takes advantage of their isolation from main production regions to enable confident supply of plants to countries with stringent controls, particularly USA and Japan, expanding their customer base even further.

Risk management

Innovation in business practice is not without risk. Fitzgerald Nurseries manages this risk through patience and attention to detail. Cordyline ‘Charlie Boy’ is a good example of this. From as early as 2006 there was no doubt in Pat’s mind that Charlie Boy was a superior cultivar. It was only in 2017, though, that the nursery managed to have success with production volume. The real challenge with this dedication to innovation is in finding ways to recoup the investment of time and resources. Plant Breeders Rights are an essential part of this, but so is careful pitching of price and volumes to markets hungry for new lines.

Demand

How do FitzGerald Nurseries determine what the market wants as new products? Although trade fairs, consumer shows and design trends showcased in popular and trade magazines are good ways to find out other people’s ideas, it is not the way to be original. “Too much attention is given to copying what others do”, says Pat. He believes that general knowledge of societal challenges and demands is the most important consideration. Many of the new products from FitzGerald Nurseries are suitable for living walls and green roofs, as well as for indoor container design. “The reality is that cities are expanding, living spaces are becoming more compact, and the growing realisation of the contribution that plants make to people’s health and well being must mean that demand for plants will increase”, explains Pat.

And responding to the growing interest in urban farming, FitzGerald Nurseries are expanding into food crops with the company Beotanics. “Beo in Gaelic means life or live”, explains Pat. “Our work focus through this initiative is to respond to trends in consumer needs, not trends in fashion. As an industry we have become a bit lazy in delivering truly valuable plants to the consumer”.  Early indications are that these innovative food crops are of value to society. How will society respond?  “Call back in 2019”, Pat smiles!

Author: By Dr Audrey Gerber

Finance

Unless you were born rich, your company (whether you grow flowers, plants or bulbs) needs financing. Banks are the major financiers of companies and in the horticultural sector Dutch-based Rabobank is the world’s largest financier. How does Rabobank accomplish this? Rabobanks’ International Business Manager of Food and Agriculture Jakob Brand and Sector Specialist Dave Marcus tell us.

“We try to distinguish ourselves with sector knowledge which is gathered from a worldwide network. Giving our customers access to this knowledge and network is certainly a unique selling proposition (usp). Because of our cooperative structure, we cannot always offer the lowest interest rates. But we can be a partner helping entrepreneurs to do their business the best way possible and enable their future: for instance, by advising them on topics like world trade, currencies, global sector flows and trends but also on currencies and international payment services.

Securities

“Finance companies are all about securities. You need to pay back what you borrow. But Rabobank is increasingly looking at the entrepreneur himself, his character and his business model. We know the horticultural business so we have opinions about one’s business plans, financial reserves or sustainability policy.

When financing companies, Rabobank gives high priority to sustainable businesses which is hard to quantify. But a company should at least meet local laws on this issue. And it helps if they participate in a sustainability standards and certification program such as Fair Trade. As a bank we have a vision of Growing a Better World Together. This challenges us and our customers to deal with Mother Earth in a more careful and sustainable way.

  “Suppose a Colombian grower wishes to refinance his nursery and comes to us. The first thing we do is find out if there is a match: talk to each other; visit the farm. Talk about the business, the entrepreneur’s plans and his views on the future, his products and his views on sustainability.

Financing is not just handing over a bag of money. It is about a long-term relationship between customer and bank. Therefore, we need shared viewpoints on the grower’s product plans, sustainability and social issues.

Later we look at the figures concerning assets and debts. You need to know the customer’s needs and his securities in order to offer him optimum financing. Customer one may need a mortgage, whilst customer two is in need of a lease construction. Our aim is to always facilitate clients and help them do business to the best of their ability, even if this means not financing a company.”

Three questions and three principles about banking

“Basically,” says Rabobanks’ Jakob Brand, “banking is about three simple questions and three simple principles.”

Question 1: Who are you? Who are you as an entrepreneur? What are your dreams? What keeps you awake at night?

Question 2: What do you need the money for?

Question 3: Next to diligence and good behaviour, what can you offer me if you cannot pay me back?

Principle 1: Cash is king. In business it’s all about the money.

Principle 2: Use common sense. Avoid making mistakes because you think doing business is easy in your part of the world or in your line of business.

Principle 3: Read between the lines. Between the lines of business plans and policy papers there is more to be read than you might think. Every businessman needs solid visions and plans, a policy to stick to.”

Author Piet Kralt

Pazzaglia

The company Pazzaglia was founded in 1983 by Fabio Pazzaglia. It evolved from a small shop selling agricultural machines into a modern factory producing and selling its own branded products worldwide.

Pazzaglia’s headquarters are in Casalguidi, near Pistoia. “Being here means we have direct contact with many of our customers,” says owner Fabio Pazzaglia “and this is advantageous for us. We are able to understand in real time what the nurseries need, get their suggestions and develop our products with them. Our engineers know the industry and our highly-skilled workforce well. Aided by state-of-the-art equipment, Pazzaglia produces machines that are now sold all over the world.”

 Pazzaglia is one of the leading manufacturers of root balling machines, but the company has now expanded its offerings with a full line including pruning platforms, container movers, loaders, planters, pruners and a small tractor, highly suitable for small spaces between rows of high density nurseries.

The assortment of root balling machines ranges from the smallest in the world,( model FZ50 which root balls from 18 cm to 50 cm, and is suitable for shrubs and small trees, up to model FZ200AV, the flagship of the company, which root balls from 60 cm to 200 cm, that can dig huge specimens and lift plants weighing up to almost five tons.

Best Seller

“Our best seller is the FZ110 which suits most nurseries growing shrubs and trees,” continues Pazzaglia. “All of our digging machines make perfect root balls allowing for easier operation whether they have to transplant or put plants in pots or containers. They can be easily customized with a long list of accessories and options, from different size blades to cranes, excavators, movers and everything needed to make the job more comfortable for operators.”

The company’s market share has grown steadily over the years thanks in part to a very efficient and well-established sales network. “In many countries, we operate directly from Pistoia while in others we have local dealers,” says Pazzaglia. “Many have been working with us for many years, others more recently, especially in countries where the nursery stock industry has only recently started up and is still under development”.

The company exports its products throughout Europe, Russia, Turkey and the U.S.A. and other countries worldwide. “Our main export markets now are Holland, Germany and Russia. We believe Asia, North Africa and South America will be very important markets for us in the near future.”

The company participates in many exhibitions such as IPM Essen, Flormart in Padova and Eima in Bologna and through dealers at other shows, like Istanbul.

Innovative Solutions

Pazzaglia has many innovative solutions and exclusive patents that are helping growers with their everyday tasks. “In the future we want to continuously improve our products and introduce new machines. For example, our latest improvement is our new container mover PZL900T which boasts an innovative telescopic arm.

 

Author: Aldo Colombo

Pistoia

Pistoia, in the heart of Tuscany and due west of Florence, has 90,000 inhabitants and the nursery stock industry is one of its most important economic assets. It is the foremost producer in Europe, with some gigantic enterprises producing and trading the widest possible assortment, from subshrubs to big trees. However, the economic crisis has also had a major impact on the Pistoia nurseries: the ‘big’ and the ‘huge’ ones survived quite well, exporting their products all over Europe and to emerging Middle East countries, Turkey, and former Soviet Union republics. The small ones have had to reduce their workforce, often only relying on family members, selling their products to the biggest producers resulting in much thinner margins. Those more affected were the medium-big enterprises, for which the Italian market was still important and those that made huge investments at the wrong moment. Therefore, in the last three years there have been huge takeovers that have deeply changed the ‘landscape’ of the industry.

Nurseries

Tree and shrub production in the area encompasses more than 5,000 ha with 1,200 enterprises and approximately 5,500 working units. The first nurseries were founded in the 19th century in an ideal  location in terms of climatic conditions that enable growing both hardy and Mediterranean plants, protection from the strongest winds, fertile soil and abundant availability of water. The major transformation at the end of the 20th century was the increased use of container cultivation which  enables the sale of plants all year-long.

Quality

The quality standards in Pistoia are very high and clients are happy to find excellent products in quantities they need, including large landscaping projects. Another feature is the ample availability of topiary plants, not only in traditional shapes (balls, trees, espaliers, etc.) but also the most unusual: all kind of animals, from elephants to dinosaurs, dolphins to horses, cars to bicycles to motorcycles, with endless possibilities.

 ‘Vestire il Paesaggio’

‘Vestire il Paesaggio’ (‘Styling the Landscape’) was held for the first time in 2007, organized by Renato Ferretti and the Pistoia Province staff, followed by two other incarnations in 2010 and 2013. The next event was planned for 2016, however it was decided to postpone it until 2017 to coincide with the events of Pistoia Italian Capital of Culture, with a smaller version that took place at the end of 2015.

“The event was really successful,” says Mr. Ferretti. “We were able to introduce an international audience to the beauties of Pistoia and how strong our town is within the industry. The program was very diverse including an international workshop, visits to the leading nurseries and to other attractions of the town, for instance the ‘1000 flower tapestry’ and the embroidery museum and cultural events like concerts and performances.”

Author: Aldo Colombo

Germany & Poland

Germany and Poland are neighbouring countries. But from a horticultural point of view they differ enormously. Germany is one of the world’s most mature markets of flowers and plants; Poland is a developing market. And where the Germans import the vast majority of their flowers and plants, the Poles produce most of what they consume.

How to trigger the German market?

Both in consumption and in market development, the German market is extremely mature. All market channels are strongly developed. Market development keeps up with economic developments, but not more than that. Although there is widespread penetration of flowers and plants, some sectors of the population are wont to purchase as they are deemed an unnecessary expenditure for a variety of reasons (economic, cultural, etc.).

Supermarket chains have carved out their own place in the market. People don’t buy their weekly bunch of roses from a florist, but rather at their local Aldi or Lidl. Florists who do not find their niche have little hope of surviving as they won’t be able to compete with discount supermarkets.

Sometimes it seems that the German market shows signs of saturation but then you see growth where you least expect it. Some consumer groups are hard to reach; on the other hand, sales to younger consumer groups are relatively stable.

One thing stands out when analyzing the German market: its strong focus on roses. These are not long stem high-end roses, but the rather the low-priced ones, mainly of African origin. In a market with such a strong focus on one product (and more specifically the cheaper version of it), there must be opportunities to educate consumers that the selection is much wider. This could be done by florists, garden centers and supermarkets, but they would likely need assistance from their suppliers (and perhaps Royal FloraHolland, as well ). Of course this is a major challenge. But then again, Germany is an enormous market.

How to develop the Polish market?

Poles love flowers and plants and because of their growing prosperity, they increasingly have the means to buy them. Most of the products they purchase are grown locally. In Germany, Dutch exporters found a culture and a language which were like their own. Poland has a different kind of language and in its culture Catholicism carries a lot of weight as evidenced by how Poles decorate grave sites with flowers. People bring flowers to the deceased on a weekly basis. Funerals without flowers are unthinkable. Cemeteries and cemetery nurseries go hand in hand.

Through expansion, discount supermarkets have strengthened their market share, but florists persist. In every residential area you find supermarkets, but you also find flower shops and kiosks .

Supermarkets are seeing increased revenue as purchases for personal use continue to rise. Still, florists are finding ways to stay relevant to consumers by offering what they cannot find in supermarkets.

Because of its (communist) history and because Polish prosperity hasn’t reached the level of Western Europe yet, price is still an issue in Poland. But there are opportunities in offering a wider, more high-quality assortment to more prosperous consumer groups. This of course requires cooperation between Polish trade channels and its domestic and foreign suppliers.

 

Comparison of Germany and Poland in cut flower sales
Germany Poland
Consumer sales (2017) € 5.7   billion €0.9 billion
Population 81   million 39   million
Market share flower shops 68% 75%
Market share supermarkets 12% 9%
% imported 75% 25%
Most popular flowers Rose Rose

Source: Royal FloraHolland

Author: Piet Kralt