Is Colombia flooding the British market at the expense of the Netherlands?

For a long time, Colombia has been by far the largest supplier of cut flowers to the USA and is, after the Netherlands, the second largest export country in the world. Given the cheap and large-scale production in Colombia, container transport that continues to improve in quality, and the growing demand for cheaper flowers, we are seeing an increase in exports from Colombia to other markets than North America.

The UK is at the top of the list. What effect has the developments in Colombia had on the competitive position of the Netherlands in the UK?

In the period from 2010 through 2015, the UK import of cut flowers rose by 7% in volume. Roses and other cut flowers were responsible for the increase in imports. Products like chrysanthemums and carnations decreased in popularity in the UK at the same time.

The Netherlands increases share of roses
In the growing market for roses, Colombia has not had a significant effect in the UK compared with 2010. The import volume from Kenya, Italy, as well as the Netherlands increased in that period. The Netherlands is thus increasing its share compared with Colombia.

Source: UN Comtrade

The exact opposite is evident in the declining British chrysanthemum market: the Netherlands is losing a considerable share of the volume, while the sales in Colombia have grown by more than 80%. The volumes from Italy and South Africa are growing slightly. The Netherlands is thus losing about 20 percentage points. The export country Colombia is responsible for a large proportion of that.

Regarding carnations, from 2010 through 2014 the import volumes into the UK were reasonably stable. But in 2015 they stagnated significantly. Only half as many carnations were being supplied from Colombia, while the Netherlands started supplying more last year. This created a relatively stronger position for the Netherlands.

Competitive position of Italy improving
Both the Netherlands and Colombia lost market share in the UK due to improved competition from countries like Italy. The differences varied greatly by product group. Over the total, the Netherlands lost a share of 1.3% and Colombia 0.4%. We can conclude from this that the Netherlands lost a bit more than Colombia, primarily due to the increased import of chrysanthemums from Colombia.

Source: Royal FloraHolland

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