Expos- Exhibitions

Two major 2018 industry trade events have gained the approval of the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).  AIPH has approved International Horticultural Exhibitions for many years but extended this to cover trade exhibitions recently with the first D Category Expo approved by AIPH in 2017.  This was Greentech, a major event for growers that will take place in RAI, Amsterdam in the Netherlands from 12-14 June 2018.  The exhibition is aimed at professionals in the horticulture industry and will include numerous educational sessions with a focus on crop production.

The second is Flormart which will take place in Padova, Italy on 19-21 September 2018.  Flormart will include exhibitors from around the world as well as growers and suppliers from Italy.  It will include conferences and seminars for all those with an interest in the horticultural supply chain.  The AIPH 70th Annual Congress will take place alongside Flormart this year, bringing a wider international audience to the event which is growing year on year.

To gain the approval of AIPH as D Category exhibitions applicant shows must demonstrate high quality organisation and strong international participation.  They must offer excellent value to visitors and high levels of care to international participants.

Join growers and industry associations from around the world at the AIPH Congress in Padova

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) will hold its 70th Annual Congress in Padova, Italy from 17-22 September 2018.  The Annual Congress is open to members and non-members and includes conferences, discussion, networking and professional tours that will prove highly valuable for everyone who attends.  The AIPH Annual Congress is always a very international event with delegates from all over the globe, all focused on promoting the ornamental horticulture industry.

This Congress is organised with the support of the Italian Nurserystock Exporters Association, ANVE, as well as the Flormart Trade Fair which will run alongside the Congress.  The event will incorporate an AIPH International Horticultural Expo Conference for all those involved with Expos.  There will also be an AIPH International Green City Conference to bring together experts and knowledge on urban greening from around the world.

There will be time to visit the AIPH-approved, Flormart Trade Fair and to visit premier Italian growers in the world-famous growing region of Pistoia.  Delegates will also be able to visit Venice and the fabulous Botanic Gardens in Padova.

For more information visit www.aiph.org/events/padova/

Exhibitions and Expos

There is no better way to convince people of how plants can improve their lives than by showing them. Since the 1950s the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) has been responsible for approving International Horticultural Exhibitions that do just that – demonstrate how plants can change your life. There is an International Convention Relating to International Exhibitions and according to this if a country would like to organise an International Horticultural Exhibition, to which other countries are invited to participate through diplomatic channels, then the approval of AIPH is required.

Perhaps the most well-known of these Exhibitions is the Floriade that takes place every ten years in the Netherlands.  Enthusiasm for such expos has continued to grow, with millions of people visiting expos hosted all over the world. Recent successes over the last few years have included horticultural expos in Antalya, Turkey (2016), Tangshan, China (2016), Qingdao, China (2014) and Suncheon, Korea (2013). AIPH has already approved several more expos between now and 2024 as can be seen on the Exhibition Calendar on the AIPH website.  The overall number of visitors at these events is expected to exceed 30 million people in total, with billions of dollars being spent on developing these international spectacles, that can have the ability to stimulate the development of whole cities and transform the international reputation of hosting locations.

Each expo lasts for 6 months, with sites ranging from 50 to 500 hectares in size. Each one is carefully regulated, steered and monitored by AIPH. There are also shorter duration flower shows and trade fairs approved by AIPH.

There are two such expos coming very soon. November 2018 will see the opening of the 2018 Taichung World Flora Expo in Chinese Taipei.  The Expo will cover four locations in the city and is expected to attract over 8 million visitors.  The theme of the Expo is ‘Re-discover GNP – Green, Nature, People’ and international participants will be present to show horticulture from around the world.  The Expo will be an amazing event in itself but is also helping to transform the city of Taichung into an even greener city.

April 2019 will see the opening of Expo 2019 Beijing in China.  Without doubt this will be the largest International Horticultural Expo there has ever been with an area over 500 hectares and the expectation of more than 15 million visitors during the six months in which it will be open.  As an A1 Expo this will include official participation from over 100 countries.  The theme is ‘Live Green, Live Better’ and it is expected to create a new benchmark for these events.

During its most recent meeting in March this year in Melbourne, AIPH approved two further Expos; an A1 Expo in Łódź, Poland for 2024 and a C category Expo, Floralies Internationales Nantes, France for 2019.  The theme for the Expo in Łódź will be ‘Nature of the City’ and the event will play a key role in transforming this city, with a heavily industrial past, into a greener and more liveable city for the future.  The Floralies in Nantes is a long established short-term exhibition and is welcoming applications to participate right now.

FCI will share more about these and other similar Expos in coming editions as cities around the world embrace the potential to define themselves with ‘living green’.

For more information visit www.aiph.org.


In January 2018 Ter Laak Orchids won the AIPH International Grower of the Year Award 2018 (IGOTY) and scooped the AIPH Sustainability Award. The company, run by two brothers Eduard and Richard Ter Laak, grows 6 million Phalaenopsis Orchids each year. With two greenhouses in Wateringen in the Netherlands and a third 5-hectare sustainable greenhouse under construction, the business supplies garden centres, florists and retailers across Europe from its growing site.

The International Grower of the Year Award is a global prize for horticultural growers who excel in the field of market development, sustainability, economy, human resources and/or innovation. According to the jury, Ter Laak won the prize because they excel in sustainable innovations and excellent work atmosphere. Winning the AIPH International Grower of the Year Award 2018 came as a bit of a surprise. “For us it was the first time that the company had been nominated for an international award,” admits Eduard. “To qualify you have to be nominated by an affiliated company,” he explains. “We were nominated due to our recent sustainable developments, including our new, very sustainable 5 hectare, daylight greenhouse and our new and unique underground water storage system.”

Sustainable innovations

Currently a new Daylight Greenhouse is being built next to the existing nursery. This type of greenhouse is unique in the sector. “Using special lenses in the deck, we can capture and store solar heat. Solar rays are centered on a tube with flowing water and the water in these tubes is heated. This heat can then be used to heat the greenhouse, significantly reducing our energy consumption, by up to 45-50%,” explains Eduard.

“In 2017 we also completed an underground water storage that allows us to store rainwater in the soil. The rainwater can be pumped out when required and used to humidify the plants. In this way we not only recirculate our water, but we also counteract salinization of the soil and reduce the chance of local flooding.”


“Winning the award was a real surprise,” reveals Eduard. “It was already a great honor to be nominated, alongside the other exceptional companies that had been shortlisted. But to win the award is a fantastic appreciation. It makes us very proud and is a big accolade for our dedicated team and our loyal partners/clients. We work as a team, in which cooperation is very important, so this is an award for the whole team. We celebrated this together with a party for all our employees and their partners.”

After winning this IGOTY-award, Ter Laak Orchids has been ranked as among the top 12 companies in terms of sustainability in the floricultural sector of Holland and had the chance to win the prestigious ‘King Willem I Plaque’ for Sustainable Entrepreneurship. This national prize is awarded once every two years to the most sustainable company in the Netherlands.

Role model

Ter Laak Orchids is now very firmly in the spotlight. “From a business perspective, this is an international award that has received a lot of worldwide attention,” explains Eduard. “International companies and educational institutions now want to visit our company and learn about our production, technological innovations and our sustainable vision. In addition, this brings us to interesting contacts, like potential employees and even possible new partners, with whom we can develop new ideas.”

“However, this award won’t change our company. We’ll stay the same as before! We work every day with passion on our product. We see this award as a great reward and an extra motivation for a bright future!”


Author: Jean Vernon




You wouldn’t expect a leading European producer of perennials, grasses, annuals and young plants to be located in Poland. Yet Vitroflora ‘grew up’ in Poland, although CEO Tomasz Michalik considers his company to be European. “Poland is a good market for our products, but only a third of our perennial turnover is Polish, another third is German and the rest is elsewhere in Europe.”

Michalik tells the story of growing over the past forty years by focusing on quality.

“Under communist rule, the main difference between Poland and other communist countries was that agricultural companies could be privately owned. So the Pawlak family founded Vitroflora as a private business. By the early eighties we had started in vitro production of young plants in the lab. Nowadays, 60 to 70% of our perennial production comes from the lab, which is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Still, we distinguish ourselves from competitors by producing young material ourselves for both domestic and export markets. Next to Poland, the Baltic states and other parts of Eastern Europe are important markets.

Fair Prices

“It took Vitroflora time and energy to reach its current position. We were new on the European market and Poland isn’t exactly known as a horticultural country. But we always focused on preserving fixed standards, on good, reliable quality and on excellent service for our clients. We never competed over price. We deliver a good, solid product, we innovate but our transport costs are relatively high. So we charge fair prices for our products. Perhaps in some parts of the country Polish wages are lower than Western European wages, but we need skilled people who deserve a fair salary. So in that perspective there is no local advantage.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to be far from the center of the horticulture trade. In the past Dutch colleagues would benefit from their location with their innovations. But since Vitroflora has had solid growth, other companies are more willing to work with us.


“Our goal is to be the European leader in each of our product categories, especially perennials and annuals for local and East European clients. Our focus will be on innovations with mid-size plants. It is not our aim to become a mass producer. We will focus on the high-end market by expanding our in vitro production.”

Author: Piet Kralt

It’s not easy being green

ANVE – Associazione Nazionale Vivaisti Esportatori (National Association of Nursery Stock Exporters) is an association that protects the interests of all Italian nurserymen. It was established several years ago to help industry entrepreneurs access targeted information and create advantageous conditions for services and supplies.

 ANVE includes Full members, Supporting members and Partners in order to guarantee maximum national representation through direct contact with local entities. It is especially active in creating dialogues with institutions, both on the national and European level.

Through ANVE, growers have their needs and those of the nursery and gardening industry represented before trade unions and political, administrative and social institutions. Important topics include environmental and safety issues, expanding the market to include other countries, creating a network amongst entrepreneurs who favor aggregation of common projects and the exchange of ideas, information, and experiences. Associates are regularly updated when useful sector documents or information are found.

The services offered by ANVE include assistance regarding phytosanitary and customs aspects, promotional activity in European and Extra-European markets and monitoring and assistance in public funding for companies.

Within ENA (European Nursery stock Association) and AIPH (International Association of Horticultural Producers) ANVE participates in the Legislation, Promotion, Royalty and Quality Working Groups.


According to Marco Cappellini, President of ANVE, one of the most important achievements has been the important lobbying role of the Association in new European legislation about Xylella: “The IMPLEMENTING DECISION (EU) 2017/2352 by the COMMISSION dated 14 December, 2017 will guarantee the buyers healthy plants through modern diagnosis methods, but at reduced costs and without too much bureaucracy.” ENA has stated that “Current scientific evidence and legislation does not justify a movement ban of plants from an entire country or from some regions of a country, just because the country contains some demarcated zones or areas infected by Xylella.”

This bacterial disease has caused severe damage to olive trees in a restricted area (Salento) in the Apulia region. On the other hand, the outbreak of further strains of the pathogen in other European countries is potentially more dangerous to additional ornamental plants.

In Italy, ANVE was one of the associations that gave approval of the so-called ‘Bonus Verde’ (Green Bonus) that allows tax refunds for people who build new green areas or will incur substantial maintenance fees in 2018, up to 5,000 euros. “The discussion with authorities about the allowable cap to the expenses was very difficult and this amount is, in effect, quite low,” continues Marco Cappellini. “However this can be viewed as an initial acknowledgement of our industry. If the results of this trial year are positive, the amount could be higher in the future.” It is absolutely necessary to demonstrate to Italian politicians the benefits of green spaces in terms of health and environmental advantages.

New Challenges

“For 2018,” says Edoardo Sciutti, Executive Secretary of ANVE, “we are ready for new challenges: the definition of the new phytosanitary rules, going deeper in the CITES requirements for endangered species and together with the Italian Ministry of Environment, the project of standards for sustainable cities, directly connected to the acreage and quality of green areas. Our last project, with an insurance company, concerns coverage for disease and pest damage.”

Author: Aldo Colombo

Better to love nature

“Investing in a green environment is an investment for yourself and your health. Man is part of nature. Nature helps man get rid of stress and relax. I want to make people aware of that fact.”

Tjisse Brookman is not some obscure environmentalist. For decades (and until recently) he worked for a Dutch health insurance company as their Relations Manager. “Individually or with partners I looked for added value for our company, our clients, partners and society as a whole. It’s an insurer’s social responsibility to encourage people to go outdoors because it is better for their health and a positive outlook. It’s better to love nature than end up a patient. Being more active and, thus, healthy is good for them as individuals, for society as a whole and for the insurer. Our company wishes to add value to our clients’ policies without being overbearing. In doing so there is a connection between nature and health.”

“A green environment adds to people’s health, vitality and well-being. So it also leads to lower health costs although it is not easy to quantify that in insurance premiums. It will reduce the chance, for instance, of diabetes or chronic obstructive respiratory disease but also conditions related to stress. As an example, walking in nature has a positive influence on combatting burnout.

Why? There are several possible reasons for this phenomenon. Trees give off phytoncides that stimulate the operation of our immune system. And because nature provides us with fractal patterns, it lulls the brain into a restful state thus creating the capacity for renewed creativity and taking on new challenges.

We do not know what nature does exactly or which specific diseases are counteracted by a green environment. But we do know that there are positive effects and some of these are very specific. Take, for instance, the fact that some plants purify the air inside a room and think of the possibilities this creates for hospitals, offices, classrooms and homes. There is already a group of growers adapting their output to this knowledge (see also www.airsopure.nl). I think growers should be aware of the possibilities and work together in order to create green concepts with commercial value. And at the same time do what they can to contribute to the better health and well-being of humanity.”

Green Agenda

Many horticultural entrepreneurs see sustainability issues as a threat. Environmentalists sometimes demand unreasonable things from growers, wholesalers and florists. But in the Netherlands the organisation Green Agenda is researching opportunities sustainability can bring  to the floral industry. Jelle Hiemstra, a senior investigator at Wageningen University & Research and a steering committee member of Green Agenda, has the story.

 “Green Agenda knows that a green environment (in- and outdoors) contributes to the health and well-being of people. There is more and more proof of this, a growing awareness of the benefits of greening. There is money to be made if this knowledge is shared with companies and they incorporate it into their business model. Knowledge, know-how, profits: that’s the story”.

“Green Agenda is an initiative of Royal FloraHolland, GreenCity (a Dutch growers’ organization of nursery stock and flower bulbs and gardeners and landscapers) and Wageningen University & Research in a public-private partnership (PPP). Whatever money the industry puts into research, the Dutch government doubles. This has enabled Green Agenda to start a research programme. For instance, to measure the effects of a green environment on the medical and psychological well-being of people. Or the effect of indoor greening on the quality of air in office buildings. Some of this research leads to concrete action. Like the Tergooi Hospital in Hilversum that created a chemo garden, a green environment for people being treated for cancer. It appears this space has a positive effect on their treatment”.

“Green Agenda focuses on the positive effects of greening (which of course also includes flowers and indoor greenery) on living, working, learning and recovery. It has published several fact sheets about the benefits of greening (which you can read in English at: www.royalfloraholland.com).

People are healthier in a green environment. They will pay fewer visits to their doctor with health problems like diabetes, coronary heart disease or depression. They perform better at work and school. A study shows that in the Netherlands alone, 400 million euros can be saved on healthcare costs by greening the environment. It also appears that people take better care of their personal living environment when it contains well-maintained greenery. Hospital patients that view a green world recover faster than patients that only view an urban environment. Additionally, greening has benefits including combatting urban heat island effect and worldwide climate change. Moreover, there are plants that can purify the air in your room, your office or your classroom”.

“Green Agenda benefits from a high level of interest. Society and government organisations are beginning to see the benefits of a greener world. And of course there are certain milestones like the Paris treatment. The challenge for the horticultural industry is to create concepts to redeem the promise of greening for a more sustainable society. The problem in horticulture is that the industry is too divided. Therefore, it is hard to find companies to invest in green innovations, thus adapting to the benefits that I know exist. Green Agenda is trying to create coalitions and provide information and knowledge for new concepts but it is necessary that companies participate in these projects.

The Green Agenda project finishes at the end of 2018 but we are convinced that we should continue past that deadline. We need more concrete concepts and real action from the green industry to actualize the benefits sustainability offers us.”

Greening Australian cities together

Normally on this page you read about people working together to achieve their goals. This time it’s a different story. It is the entire horticultural industry of Australia cooperating in 202020 Vision and greening all Australian cities. This is quite ambitious as 202020 Vision wants to expand Australian urban green space 20% by the year 2020.

 202020 Vision has eight reasons for greening Australian cities. There is people’s health and well-being, benefitting from parks and other urban green spaces. It’s a fact that green spaces are more successful in pre-existing green environments. People are more likely to meet in green environments; they even have more fun shopping in streets with large trees. Of course, there are sustainability issues. Trees reduce temperatures by up to 8˚C, reducing air conditioner usage and carbon emissions by an estimated 12-15% per annum. Trees diminish the usage of water; they remove air pollution and the larger the tree, the more air pollution is removed. And last, but not least: time spent in nature has been proven to have a positive effect on children’s behaviour.

Everywhere in the world there is ample reason to expand urban green spaces but in Australia, with its warm climate, there is even more reason.

202020 Vision created a nationwide network of governmental and private organisations and individuals from the green industry to make their initiative succeed. They researched why they should green their cities and how to accomplish this. They used their network to collect and disseminate practical information on every aspect of expanding urban green spaces. What plants can you use where? How about soil and composting, about overcoming barriers to improving a park, about talking with green industry professionals  in their own jargon. But they also deliberated how to create an urban forest and a community action plan.

202020 Vision started in 2014 and has come a long way. The greatest achievement is probably the awareness it has created. Millions of Australians have come into contact with the ideas behind creating more urban green space. Millions of them are now convinced that more urban green space is the answer to many ecological, economic and social problems. It helped the flower and plants industry be more relevant to society. It set an example for the world about how to green your urban environment together. Another achievement is that real projects to improve and expand Australian urban green have begun implementation.

202020 Vision is showing the world what the value of green can be by using one of the industry’s best elements: cooperation.

Friedrich Raiffeisen

Basically there are two ways to get societies out of poverty, both rooted in 19th century Germany. One goes back to Karl Marx, urging proletarians to conquer the state to strengthen their economic position. The other goes back to Friedrich Raiffeisen (1818-1888), the Mayor of a village near Cologne. On the basis of his Christian beliefs he taught poor people to help themselves by cooperating. Raiffeisen’s ideas strongly influenced agricultural and horticultural industries.

Professor Theresia Theurl, Head of the Department for Co-operatives at Münster University (Germany) tells us how Raiffeisen’s ideology has influenced co-operatives both then and now.

“Raiffeisen lived in the mid-19th Century when many Europeans were poverty-stricken. He cared about their problems, but unlike Marx he didn’t believe the state should improve their fate, rather, people should find their own solutions. He never stopped explaining his ideas and succeeded in innovating society. He was convinced that you can achieve together what you cannot on your own. All those small German farmers were weak on their own, but strong together. When there was a famine, Raiffeisen wouldn’t buy bread for the poor. Instead he founded a co-operative so they could buy flour and bake their own bread. He also used the co-operative model to establish banks thus giving poor farmers access to credit with which to invest.

“Co-operatives go back to medieval times (Hanze cities, guilds). But Raiffeisen was the right man at the right time, because he understood their potential. He said, ‘I can only help people if they learn to solve their problems themselves.’ Co-operatives are not a form of altruism but rather ‘well-defined self-interest’ as people would say in those days.

By constantly writing and speaking about his ideas and founding co-operatives whenever and wherever he could, he became the founding father of co-operatives in Germany and worldwide. Nowadays there are co-operatives (agricultural and others) in more than one hundred countries.

“In Raiffeisen’s co-operative model, many small owners have a vote. Co-operatives are successful if they are not too large and members agree on key issues. But I also know examples of extremely well-functioning co-operatives with over 40,000 members. Still, a good co-operative needs good organization. And of course it has to be profitable. To be successful it should have existing assets.

If the members of a co-operative think the co-operative has outlived its initial goals, they should ask if it is still relevant and what alternatives exist. It often appears that the alternatives are less attractive than the co-operative itself. Then people are back on track of talking again which is vital for any co-operative. In order to be economically successful you have to solve your group problems together.

“One shouldn’t establish a co-operative if the only goal is a high yield. The achievements of a co-operative and the relations with its members are vital for any co-operative. A co-operative is not about tomorrow’s yield; it is about long-term achievements for its members.

“Since Raiffeisen’s day his ideas have spread worldwide. You also find co-operatives in Latin America and Africa, established to strengthen people’s stake in their vocation. People  have  realized that you may move fast on your own, but you need to cooperate to reach the finish line. I think that is the foremost idea Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen taught us.”

The essence

Talking with Jeroen Mettepenningen is about getting back to basics. Jeroen is the Managing Director of D&M Depot, a Belgian creator of pottery. D&M Depot, being fully aware of current trends, considers plants and flowers to be the starting point for their creations.

“Pots should be decorative but they must be utilitarian. They have to be waterproof. The original plant pot must fit in perfectly. A pot you create for bonsai trees or Japanese maples has to be weatherproof. And you have to realize that some roots grow deep and others grow wide. So we choose to make pots in which roots can breathe. ”

“Today blue is a trendy colour, yet we do not develop blue pottery. Of course we look at trendy colours for our new pots and vases. But blue can hardly be combined with plants. So no blue pots from D&M Depot. In creating new colours and shapes we visit fairs, we follow the clothing industry and we work with a Belgian trend watching agency. They search for trends in flowers and plants and follow growers in their innovations. We see a growing desire for locally produced, handmade pottery.”

“Flowers and plants are increasingly sold in atypical environments. Plant/pot or flower/vase combinations are sold in clothing stores, coffee shops, furniture and concept stores by people who are not experts in their care and handling. That’s why our creations have to be trendy but also technically perfect.”

“The added value is in the plant, not in the pot. Some pottery suppliers constantly create new products emphasizing the pot. We choose to focus on high-end pottery for people who see flowers and plants as the perfect gift, especially in emerging markets like China, Japan and the USA. Our pottery has to be both trendy and beautiful and has to improve the plants’ or flowers’ life.”

“Communicating with clients is important. Twice a year we share our developments with florists. Our worldwide operating agents often have a background in floristry. At shows we try to inspire visitors with special plant/pot and flower/vase combinations. Inspiring clients has to be our USP (unique selling proposition). We know flowers and plants are the essence of what we create. That’s how people know us and we stick to that.”