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Netherlands: “There is daring again in the horticultural sector”
Lucas looks back with a positive feeling on the past year. "The improved relationship with customers has continued. They are very satisfied with how we are implementing the strategy." Lucas notices that growers are finding their way to consumers and examining what experience does with the product. On the day of the interview, the Trade Fair in Aalsmeer concluded successfully with more visitors than ever. He saw that here, too, there is daring again in the sector because better times are coming back.
The Chinese are ready
Lucas was also extremely satisfied with the trade mission in which FloraHolland participated at the end of October in the wake of King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima. "Our flowers and plants were beautifully presented in the spotlight. The Chinese are ready. They are becoming increasingly Western oriented and have a lot of money to spend. The chain operates very differently in China. E-commerce systems are well organised. The upper classes are rich, and the logistics of the Chinese are relatively good. Especially for the name Holland they are willing to pay more. The product must be well packaged, they are very sensitive to that." Lucas stated in his vlog of November 2 that the Chinese consider the Dutch to be romantic. "With this positive association in their head, they want to buy our flowers and plants." Lucas also heard critical tales from some growers. "I've heard: we have already tried to break into China, but we did not succeed. The big difference from 10 years ago is that there are other boundary conditions now. The Chinese have much more money to spend, and the wealth of both the middle class and the elite is increasing."
What was the highlight for Lucas? "That King Willem-Alexander said, 'You again,' during our mission in China. That means we were having success in drawing attention to our flowers. We need to aim at the upper segment. We can't reach all 1.3 billion Chinese."
The New Auctioning
About the strategic programme the New Auctioning Lucas has heard only positive comments from both customers and growers. "They really liked being included in designing the strategy during our regional meetings in November." The direction that auctioning is moving in is becoming increasingly clear. There are four lines of thought being considered. "It is probably moving towards sales from the nursery itself. To give shape to this possibility, many choices have to be made first. We need all of the meetings with growers, customers and employees to obtain input to make the right choices. In other words, lots of new developments."
Demolish and rebuild
Lucas Vos is also worried about the future. "There are real choices that have to be made with the New Auctioning, and what is going to happen in 2016 as a result? What will that do to us, as people, but also as an organisation? On the one hand we are demolishing, on the other we are rebuilding.
"Another of my concerns is that we do not know whether the consumer is spending more. Collecting this sort of data takes a long time. Everything that we are doing for funding promotion and the Consumer programme, will that really lead to more spending?"
The future of the cooperative
"What is the future of the cooperative? Who are we, how do we deal with each other? That will be the core of the new cooperative for which we shall be making a strategic programme in 2016. Cooperative 2020 will be about who we are, and we shall be conducting real talks with our growers about this. I'm really looking forward to that. We can have that talk now under better circumstances in the horticultural sector and people are feeling more positive. The tide is with us."
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