‘Dalat Hasfarm still has plenty of growth potential’

Dalat Hasfarm is the largest and most advanced floricultural company in Vietnam. During the past 23 years, it expanded from 4 to 23 hectares. And there’s still room for further growth. Hasfarm, which is active throughout the entire floricultural chain, feels that some important distribution markets – including the domestic market – show an increasing demand for flowers.

From the very start in 1994, Dalat Hasfarm has been a unique company in Vietnam. When its founder, Thomas Hooft, began, there was a small floricultural industry in Vietnam, but it wasn’t very professional. There were chrysanthemums and gladioli that were sold at the local markets, but that was about it. These days, Dalat Hasfarm cultivates cuttings, flowers and potted plants in 120 hectares of greenhouses and shade houses and that still makes them stand out. The total 5,000 ha of floriculture that can be found in Dalat consists mainly of small family businesses with an average size of 2,000 m2. There aren’t too many large companies.

Dalat Hasfarm’s main focus was initially on the Japanese market. Quality and reliability are key requirements for that market. Having those in place already, made it easier to enter other markets subsequently, says Vice Director Bernhard Schenke. He’s been working at Dalat Hasfarm since 1996. Before that, he worked in sales (cuttings) in the Indonesian market. According to Schenke, Dalat Hasfarm really put Vietnam on the map as a flower exporting country. “We’ve been quite successful.”

The export of flowers to Japan was characterised by a rapid growth. And they soon discovered that the domestic market in Vietnam was very flower-minded too. Schenke: “That was a nice surprise, we weren’t expecting that when we started out in Vietnam. In that respect, our company is very different from those in Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia – their domestic markets are very small.”

The love of flowers stems from the Buddhist traditions in Vietnam: “Every Buddhist has an altar at home and every other week, the ancestors are honoured with fruit and flowers. It used to be that only chrysanthemums were used for this, but these days a potted plant is also fine”, explains Schenke. Hence we started growing more and more potted plants for the local market over the years.

And the interest in plants and flowers isn’t all motivated by religion either. Plants and flowers are also popular gifts and decorations among all people here, including the lower classes. Schenke indicates that the local market, partially because of the growing prosperity, has become the largest market for Dalat Hasfarm’s flowers and pot plants. Other important markets for their flowers include other Asian countries, Australia, Russia and the Middle East. Their cuttings are exported worldwide.

Schenke describes Dalat Hasfarm as very differentiated. Not only because the wide range of products they cultivate, including flowers, potted plants and cuttings, but also because the company is active throughout the entire chain. “From the production of cuttings for both themselves and third parties, to the distribution to the consumer.” Dalat Hasfarm has eleven flower shops in Vietnam for example.

Retail is a relatively new phenomenon in Vietnam, it’s been on the rise for about ten years now. And Dalat Hasfarm is responding to those developments as well. The company is involved in shelf management at 45 supermarkets. “At first, the Vietnamese just went to the supermarkets to have a look, they wouldn’t buy anything. But these days, there’s more attention for food safety, which is attracting more and more consumers to the supermarkets. And plants and flowers are sold there too, as a basic need”, says Schenke.

Dalat Hasfarm takes care of the distribution process of their plants and flowers in Vietnam by themselves. They have distribution centres with cold storage facilities in the five largest cities of the country and they provide cooled transport to their customers.

Since 2012, Dalat Hasfarm has had a foreign production location. They grow carnation, hydrangea and alstroemeria at a 25-ha nursery, Kunming Hasfarm, in China. They take care of their own distribution process over there as well. They have their own import and distribution centre with cold storage in Shanghai and they’ve got one in Japan, too. And in China they also distribute the flowers with their own refrigerator trucks. They ship two sea containers with chrysanthemums to Shanghai every week.

Schenke expects that Dalat Hasfarm, which owns around 300 hectares of land in Dalat, still has plenty of growth potential. “Demand is increasing on all the markets that we’re operating in. The large population in Asia is steadily becoming wealthier, which means they need more and better quality flowers. There aren’t too many companies in Asia that can meet that demand.”

Dalat Hasfarm, the facts

Dalat Hasfarm owns 300 ha of land and it currently has 120 ha of greenhouses and shade houses. They have 2,400 employees. Their annual production consists of 180 million flowers (chrysanthemum, carnation, rose, lily, alstroemeria, lisianthus), 280 million cuttings (chrysanthemum, carnation, kalanchoe, osteospermum, schlumbergera, begonia, hibiscus, aster, lavender) and 3 million pot plants (kalanchoe, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, begonia, potted rose, hydrangea). Dalat Hasfarm exports flowers to other Asian countries, Australia, Russia and the Middle East. The largest market for flowers is Vietnam. Hasfarm’s cuttings are sold worldwide.