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Jos van Vlimmeren, Sunlife Flowers

Sunflowers stand or fall with the weather

It hasn't been an easy season for the sunflower growers. "You are very dependent on the weather in this cultivation," says Jos van Vlimmeren of Sunlife Flowers, "and I think it's getting worse. This season started very cold. At the end of spring it got hot and we had to water day and night, the summer itself was then cool again. That basically halts your crops. It makes spread out supply difficult and prevents a stable price formation."

Sunlife Flowers is the country's biggest sunflower grower. The flowers are grown on various plots in the west of Brabant, where they can only be admired for a few days. Once in bloom they are quickly harvested to arrive with the consumer as fresh as possible.

He doesn't say how many he has, but there has to be millions. Jos supplies a number of large retailers, including the German Aldi. "They're sharp as knives and not always easy, but they are well organised. Throughout the season, in all stores, they're sold for 1.99. And we can supply this."

Those weather conditions ensure an interesting dynamic in the market. If the yield is good one year (like last year), you see more supply the next year ('opportunity growers'). If the weather is bad, it's disappointing and it doesn't turn out to be so easy. At the same time the auction prices are very varied: if the weather is good, everything comes at once and the price plummets. If the crops aren't growing, the price peaks again. "We almost reached 1 Euro a piece a week or two ago, which is really exceptionally high."

There has been no lack of attention for the sunflower recently

The area of decorative sunflowers - as opposed to the sunflowers grown for sunflower oil, which is a different branch - has been reasonably stable in recent years. The product is also reasonably transport sensitive, which means there is little to fear from foreign competition. There are also relatively few stalks per square metre. "You see them grown abroad as well, but there is a price tag attached to this."

For more information:
Sunlife Flowers
Jos van Vlimmeren
Het Laag 2
4614 PA Bergen op Zoom
M: +31 651 81 98 86
T: +31 164 68 27 18
E: [email protected]
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