I’m on a plane to Kenya today. The purpose of my trip is to evaluate and close the year 2018 and to draw up plans for 2019. Being seated on a plane provides me with the opportunity, both literally and figuratively, to look back, as well as ahead, from a helicopter view. Let me take you along.
It was an extreme year – both on the production side and on the European end market. We discussed it extensively with growers and customers during and after the IFTF fair in the Netherlands. The high summer temperatures of more than 25°C meant for most retail customers that they sold fewer flowers. In addition, sales decreased in countries like Finland, due to an extremely cold winter. Not a pattern we’re going to see repeated every year, I hope?
Another common thread is the stabilizing, or declining, rose sales through retailers. The standard bunch of roses from the cheap segment might be getting boring for consumers. The current growth potential seems to be in the premium segment (large flowered) and in seasonal products. Both (rose)growers and businesses like ours (service providers) need to respond more to the seasons with colour and variety and combinations of the two.
I am aware that crops are planted for several years, with the production of certain varieties and colours evenly distributed over the year. However, it just doesn’t make sense to ship flowers that end up being thrown away by the retailer. That is not sustainable. It would be better in that case, to keep the product at the nursery and just pay (part of) the costs. A good way to reduce the waste in the chain.
With regards to seasonal products: consumers are always looking for new things and they’re quite happy to pay for it. That’s why Xpol is expanding its assortment in 2019 with new products, growers and countries. Rose will still be our most important product, but we must keep innovating. If we don’t, we’ll end up just talking about price instead of about the value for the consumer. Our beautiful product is too good for that, isn’t it?
Further improvements with regards to quality, the right varieties and colours, as well as planning and communication, will help achieve an assortment that’s even more in line with what the consumer is looking for. Full steam ahead for 2019!
Managing director Xpol