Blue is the colour for traders this Valentine’s Day
The most critical trading day has its knocks from low production, rough winds and the outbreak of a devastating virus.

Author: Rachel Wakefield

AALSMEER, the Netherlands: Just two months into the year and the markets have certainly given Dutch wholesale plant and flower traders plenty of break-ups, shake-ups and make-ups – right before Valentine’s Day, the biggest floral holiday of the year.

According to VGB – the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products – Dutch flower and exporters did good business in January, with the export value rising by six per cent in January to €471 million, based on new export statistics from market analyst Floridata. Plants outperformed flowers by five per cent to €302 million, growing by eight per cent to €169 million. Only France seems to be doing less well, with shrinkage of almost two per cent.

However, the shake-up on the export value to China, is noticeable because of the coronavirus, making a dent in the trade for Chinese New Year. According to Floridata’s export statistics, at the very beginning of the Year of The Rat, export value to China shows a contraction of 27 per cent over January.

Wesley van den Berg, manager of Floridata, says, “On the total export value, the share to Southeast Asia is relatively small at two per cent.”

Commercial director Cees Bakker of Hilverda de Boer says: “Trade is complicated, and the impact is still limited to China, Hong Kong and Macau. As a precaution, the Chinese government is extending the Chinese New Year holiday period; with many companies shut down to prevent the further spread of the virus. Closing the casinos for a few weeks in Macau will have a major impact.”

Director Matthijs Mesken of the VGB finds the situation worrying, “The Asian destinations are important growth markets for Dutch flower traders,” he comments adding, “The impact [of corona virus] can have enormous consequences for the export of flowers if the virus spreads further.”

Despite these concerns, traders are moderately positive in the run-up to Valentine’s Day making up February’s sales. This time of year is one of the most critical giveaways of flowers and plant, and it’s a blessing that Storm Ciara has passed and Valentine’s Day falls on Friday.

Cees Bakker of Hilverda de Boer expects Valentine’s turnover to be about the same as last year. Due to the prolonged adverse weather conditions in Kenya, which is affecting rose production. “As a result, prices are considerably higher, and it is difficult to achieve margins,” he explains. All in all, sales and logistic handling have been positive, but given the disappointing margins this year can be called a ‘moderate Valentine’s Day’.”