Danny van Uffelen of Zentoo:

"Russians follow Western trend toward smaller chrysanthemums”"

While disbudded chrysanthemums were traditionally the best sellers in Russia, over the last few years the demand has shifted to spray chrysanthemums and santinis, Danny van Uffelen of Zentoo tells us. Russia is their major market and due to the change in demand, they changed the assortment of their Zentoo-branded mums accordingly. At the Flowers Expo in Moscow, taking place from September 11-13, they will showcase their new and existing varieties. The trade show follows hot on the heels of the first school day (September 1), a peak day for the company.

Danny van Uffelen and Otti Blok at the Flowers Expo 2017 in Moscow, Russia.

Chrysanthemums in Russia
Russia is a chrysanthemum-loving country, and most of the chrysanthemums sold in Russia are imported from the Netherlands. "Quality is very important in Russia. Therefore, only chrysanthemums from the highest segment go to Russia, and the quality of many Dutch chrysanthemums seems to meet their demands. And we as growers are adjusting our processes to meet their demands as well. We want to position Zentoo as a quality brand and we therefore made a list of standards (stricter than the list compiled by the Dutch auction) that the varieties need to comply with. If the flowers do not comply with the standards, we will not ship them out under the Zentoo brand, but under the Vista brand."

At the 4.5 ha chrysanthemum greenhouse of one of the growers of the Zentoo brand; Van Uffelen Flowers.

Shift towards santinis and spray chrysanthemums
Even though Russia is a country that is fond of big flowers and products, Van Uffelen sees a shift towards smaller flowers. "In the past, the disbudded chrysanthemums were the top sellers in Russia, but now we see an increasing demand for santinis and spray chrysanthemums." According to him, the reason behind this shift probably lies in the fact that the Russians are increasingly following the trends in Western Europe.

And as Russia is the main market for the Zentoo branded chrysanthemums, which are produced by 10 Dutch growers, the shift in demand also means a change in their assortment. "Over the last years, we more intensively set our sights on the Russian market, we currently supply 30 percent of our volumes to this country. In order to meet the demands of our Russian clients, we are heavily investing in adjusting our assortment to their needs. Now, santinis and spray chrysanthemums form the majority in our assortment and we are continuously looking for new varieties to surprise our clients."

Russian economy
Over the last few years, the value of the ruble has been the talk of town. How is the ruble doing at the moment? "During the crisis, about four years ago, the value of the currency was very low and - more importantly - fluctuated heavily. It sometimes fluctuated with 20 percent within a couple of days. Over the last few years, the value still did not reach its former level, has been more stable - around 70 against the euro -, which in turn encouraged clients to make purchase decisions again. Over the last few days, we have seen a drop to 75 against the euro, but this is still OK. However, how it will develop in the future - which depends on developments in the relationship between the Russian and US president, is hard to predict", says van Uffelen.

The spray chrysanthemum Celebrate; one of their best sellers in Russia.

Demand and prices high
And the Russian consumer seems to have money to spend again. "Last year, Women's Day (March 8) was a very good holiday for us, and the first school day of the children, on September 1, will be another good one again. "The prices are about 30 percent higher compared to last year, which was a mediocre year." And there might be more reasons for this increase. "This year, growers focused on a more stable supply, and the lack of summer flowers on the market might uplift the demand for chrysanthemums even further."

From September 11-13 the FlowersExpo will take place in Moscow. For the eighth time Zentoo will exhibiting at this show. "It is a very important show to us. It is a great way to strengthen our relationship with our Russian clients and to show our new and existing varieties and receive feedback on these varieties." At the Zentoo booth this year, they will showcase their - as Van Uffelen calls it - "pearls" in a treasure chest.

Besides, they are also eager to gain other information. Last year for example, one of their clients asked them to equip a special box with their look, and 10-15 percent of their Zentoo production is being shipped out in this box. "It is a smaller box than the former AA box we used. The main advantage is that it can be stacked more logically on the truck and can be handled more easily; we stack 160 stems instead of 320."

For more information:
Danny van Uffelen

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