‘Trump’s protectionism doesn’t affect US flower trade’

According to Frank Koenen of FleuraMetz, Marco van Zijverden of Dutch Flower Group and Steven van Schilfgaarde of Royal FloraHolland, the American protectionist politics don’t affect the flower trade to this country. The three CEOs engaged in a discussion led by Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij/ Floribusiness, about the opportunities for exporters, the auction and flowers from the Netherlands on the North-American market.

Koenen pointed out that, as the United States have hardly any flower production of their own, they’ll have to get their flowers from somewhere. “If there are going to be any import tariffs, we’ll only see a temporary price effect. I hope that Trump likes flowers.”

FleuraMetz CEO Frank Koenen.

Van Zijverden points out a positive measure that Trump introduced. “He adjusted the corporate tax from 39 to 25%. If you have a company in the United States, that’s great news. It saves a lot of money.”

To the question whether Trump’s politics might have an impact on the exchange rate of the dollar, and indirectly, on the US flower trade, Van Schilfgaarde said it isn’t just Trump who determines the state of the global economy. “Instability is bad of course and generally speaking, economic growth does have an influence on plant and flower sales. We benefit from growth on a global level. Instability at a global level reduces economic growth, and that doesn’t help us. But it doesn’t all depend on Donald Trump alone. We’ve experienced a period of economic growth for ten years now and nobody wants to see that come to an end, of course.”

There are already many Dutch exporters active in the USA. FleuraMetz is based there and has been doing business from the region since 2003. The company had a total of nine branches in North America last year. Boston, Chicago (opened in November 2018), Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Montréal, New Jersey, New York (Manhattan) and Toronto. It’s their second biggest market, after Germany. The majority of the flowers that FleuraMetz sells in North America is imported from Ecuador and Colombia. 20-25% comes from the Netherlands and a small quantity is sourced locally.

DFG is also active in the USA. Van Zijverden: “I started in the flower business in 1985 and we started exporting to America quite soon after that. They still had a few big importers in the States at that time. But over the years, the wholesalers grew, and the importers disappeared.” Nowadays, DFG’s companies includes Holex. With an export value of around €60 million per year, this is the largest Dutch exporter to the USA. Other DFG companies include Holex USA in Miami, Intergreen USA in Miami, Orange Flower Connect in New Jersey and The USA Bouquet Company, a chain of companies that manufacture and distribute bouquets for large retailers from six strategic locations in the USA, which DFG took over last year.

“We’d like to build on the Netherlands’ position as a hub for the global floricultural industry.” Once Floriday is up and running, Van Schilfgaarde expects they’ll be able to get more of a grip on the flower trade to and in the USA and Canada. Most of the flowers that are sold there are imported from South America.

Read more about this discussion in the second, digital edition of Floribusiness, which will be published on the 16th of January.

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