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Marc Sassen, VIP Roses:
Waxed Roses: An interesting niche market
The idea of designing special roses started about 12 years ago. "Originally, we are a rose farm and we were growing a white rose with pink tips; the Dolce Vita. We noticed that 20 percent of our production did not have these pink tips, so we started experimenting with coloring the roses. And one thing led to another. Next to the cultivation of fresh roses, we started to color, wax and decorate the roses and our assortment of 'special' roses increased", says Sassen. The cupcake rose is part of this assortment. The roses, bought at the auction, are dipped in artificial chocolate (wax), have a chocolate scent and can be decorated with all kind of toppings. They have a durability of 3-6 weeks and are often being sold in a particular theme. "Mother's day, Christmas, football matches, Valentine's day and so on. So, for every occasion a cupcake can be made", he says.
'Love it or hate it'
"The florists either love it or hate it", says Sassen. "Some love it from the moment they see it and others don't. There were some florists that did not even want them in their shops. However, now, the reactions are not that negative as they were when we introduced it. The product seems to be more accepted. The florist might still not like them, but they see it attracts the attention of their clients and it sells", says Sassen. And this is also visible in the sales of the cupcakes. "Every year, our production increases by around 50 percent."
Even though VIP roses increases their production every year, they still want to keep it an exclusive product. "We sell the cupcakes to exporters and supply them to auction in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands, where they will be istributed throughout the rest of Europe. At the auction, the prices vary and we need a certain price to make some profit. So, in order to keep up the prices, we decided not to overload the auction with Cupcake Roses. Currently, they are auctioned at 1,50 euro per box, which is a reasonable price. However, our target price, of course, depends on the prices of the roses we buy at the auction", says Sassen.
Ice cream roses
Another special rose of VIP roses is the Ice Cream rose. Just like the Cupcake Rose, these roses are dipped in artificial chocolate (wax), have a chocolate scent and can be decorated with all kind of toppings. They are supplied to three auctions in the Netherlands and are currently high in demand during this time of the year. "It is a real summer item and they might even be better sold than the cupcakes at the moment. The current auction price per box is 1.75 euro.''
Sassen is still full of ideas and a lot of new products and additions are in the pipeline. "We are designing the 'winter cupcakes', new logos, colors, toppings and so on. And for the fresh rose cultivation, still our main business, we are always looking for new varieties. We specialize on the British roses with open hearts", he says.
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