In Japan there is much to gain with regards to logistics

Only a few more weeks in Japan, before I return to my roots in the Netherlands. The biggest difference between Japan and the Netherlands in my opinion, is that from our western point of view, the Japanese don’t seem to have a very good balance between work and free time. This does mean however, that everything is perfectly organised and of the best quality. That goes for the flowers too. In other words: working hard does pay off.

I recently met a florist who has a shop in the heart of New York City. Her assortment includes Japanese flowers. During a dinner, I discovered how little she actually knew about the origin of her flowers, of the entire production process in a horticultural company.
The company where I’m currently doing my internship, Naniwa Flower Auction, isn’t a cooperative like FloraHolland. I gave a presentation about the organisation of auctions last week. One of the things I focused on was the difference between the Dutch and the Japanese auctions. And to what extent the Dutch auctioning system might work for the Japanese flower auction.

A big difference is that the Dutch flower market mainly focuses on export, whereas in Japan the focus is mostly on the domestic market. Not so surprising maybe when you realise that Japan has 123 million inhabitants and the Netherlands only 17 million. The entire floricultural production in Japan can be distributed locally. And if there are shortages, they’ll import from Vietnam – regular imports include chrysanthemums, cut orchids and carnations.
But in 2008, Naniwa was the first company to start exporting speciality and niche products to the United States. Another thing that surprised me at this auction is that occasionally you may see the auctioning of flower pots. And since green leaves are popular in Buddhist flower bouquets, you’ll see quite a lot of foliage at the auction, to fulfill the need for florist greens.

My final conclusion is that there’s still much to gain with regards to logistics at this Japanese flower auction. For example, lorries are still being loaded manually, because the flowers aren’t on trolleys. Boxes of flowers are stacked inside the lorry. Not a dock shelter in sight here.

Sven Paauwe,

Sven is a third-year student of HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. He did his internship with Naniwa Flower Auction in Osaka, Japan.

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