Dutch Flower Group (DFG) currently realises most of its turnover in Europe, but the organisation’s goal for the coming years is to become a global market leader in plant and flower sales. Their turnover on the British market has been going down due to the weak British pound. It’s one of the reasons why DFG decided to shift their focus to alternative markets such as the US and China. This is what DFG’s CEO Marco van Zijverden says in the run-up to the International Floriculture Forum, which will take place on the 6th of November in Vijfhuizen. As one of the keynote speakers, he’ll be introducing the Trade & Markets theme at the Forum.
By Quincy von Bannisseht
The two other themes that will be discussed at the International Floricuture Forum 2018 are Logistics & Transport and Breeding & Product Innovation. In addition to Marco van Zijverden (DFG), the Forum will welcome keynote speakers Pieter Elbers (KLM), Jonathan Ralling (Flamingo Horticulture), Micha Danziger (Danziger) and Hans van den Heuvel (Dümmen Orange).
Van Zijverden refers to DFG’s acquisition of The USA Bouquet Company earlier this year as an example of how they are now fully targeting the American market. “We want to expand our market position at a global level.” With that idea in mind, DFG has set its eyes on China too. “For the Chinese market, we’re working closely together with Royal FloraHolland. Our China specialist within DFG, when it comes to air freight in particular, is Holex. All our products going to China need to be packed in boxes. Holex opened an office in Shanghai two months ago, from where our own people can manage the import and logistics processes.”
Chinese market gigantic
In China, DFG supplies to companies that make bouquets and supply to florists. China also has its own flower production industry, but according to Van Zijverden, there’s still plenty of space on the market for Dutch flowers. “In terms of consumer spending, China is a gigantic market. The triangle Beijing-Shanghai-Guangzhou alone, already counts around 200 million consumers. China really offers a lot of opportunities.”
Staff shortages in the UK
Apart from the low exchange rate of the British pound, which has made Dutch flowers more expensive for British consumers, DFG is facing some other effects of the impending Brexit. One of those is that it has become more and more difficult to find staff for their UK branches. “We have many local branches for the production of bouquets, which heavily depend on workers from abroad, and the UK has become less attractive for them.”, explains Van Zijverden.
DFG is also actively lobbying with the Dutch and British governments with regards to a pre-clearance system. “A lorry goes through Dover every six seconds. It’s impossible to physically clear all of those. That’s why we’re lobbying for a system where we connect with English customs and provide them with access to all the information they need about our products – which growers they’re from for example – allowing us to get across the border as quickly as possible, perhaps with the odd random check. Time is crucial for fresh produce.”
The DFG leader feels that a pre-clearance system isn’t necessarily the only solution, an alternative such as a fast lane for lorries with perishable goods could also be a way to handle the expected border issues.
Sea cargo promising
To prevent being too dependent on countries that are facing geopolitical uncertainties – the UK, but countries like Russia, Ethiopia and Kenya as well – DFG is now targeting the new, faraway markets. So far, transport to and from these countries is mostly done by air. But Van Zijverden thinks that the use of sea containers for flower transport will soon take off, even roses might be shipped as sea cargo.
For more information on the International Floriculture Forum that will take place at 6 November in Vijfhuizen you can take a look at the website Floriforum.com.