Behind the scenes of an ambitious chrysanthemum cooperation

"Our ambition is to grow to 100 ha within a few years", says Danny van Uffelen of Zentoo, a chrysanthemum brand and cooperation currently consisting of 10 Dutch chrysanthemum growers. Over the last five years, the production of this brand has grown from 40 to nearly 60 ha. One of the members of this cooperation is Van Uffelen Flowers in Naaldwijk, where chrysanthemums are grown on 4.5 ha. We paid a visit to this nursery and learned more about the cooperation, the Zentoo brand and the production and post harvest process of this brand.

Danny van Uffelen in the greenhouse of Van Uffelen Flowers holding spray chrysanthemum Celebrate, a variety that is doing very well in Russia, their main market.

Zentoo - cooperation
Several chrysanthemum growers and breeders came up with the idea to build a quality brand and in 2007, they established a cooperation, called Zentoo. According to Van Uffelen, combining forces is key. "We see more and more consolidation in the market and also at the production level. Together, we can gain more benefits. So, from our members, we transferred many activities to the Zentoo cooperation, like purchases, marketing and sales. As a result, growers can fully focus on what they are good at: producing a high-quality product." Currently, the cooperation consists of 10 members who are growing Zentoo-branded chrysanthemums on a total acreage of nearly 60 ha, spread over 15 locations.

Van Uffelen Flowers Naaldwijk is one location. Chrysanthemums that are not in flower yet.

The chrysanthemums that are in flower. In this greenhouse, four varieties - of which three yellow varieties - are grown.

Zentoo - brand
As well as the cooperation, the brand is called Zentoo too. The aim is to create a high-quality product, and in order to achieve such a product, they made a list of standards each chrysanthemum variety and finished product needs to comply with. They made standards regarding essential quality points like weight, shape, size, color. According to Van Uffelen, the standards are stricter than those required at the auction. "Regarding rust, for example, a little is accepted at the auction, but if we spot a sign of rust in one of our bunches, we won't sell it under the Zentoo brand, but under the Vista brand."

Small areas are used to test new varieties.

New varieties
In addition to bringing good quality product to the market, Zentoo also wants to surprise their clients with new and unique varieties. In order to keep achieving this goal, they cooperate with 7 breeders. "This way, we can adjust our assortment to the needs of our clients." The Zentoo collection currently consists of 70 varieties and every year, they are introducing over 10 new ones.

Spray Chrysanthemum Celebrate

Harvest and post harvest
And when the flower is ready, it can be harvested checked, packed and cooled. It is a process that is as important as the cultivation itself. At Van Uffelen Flowers much is being done automatically; from planting the cuttings to sleeving the bunches. The only manual labor that is needed is placing the automatically cut flowers on the belt and placing the sleeved bunched in the boxes. Below the process in pictures.

A machine is cutting the stems off the flowers, and workers manually grab the bunches and put them on the belt.

Underground, the bunches are transported to the packaging area.

Bunches from underground arriving in the packaging area.

After the stems have been cut and the flowers have been bunched, they are checked by a camera and sleeved.

The bunches ready to be packed.

The flowers in the boxes are cooled to below 10 degrees Celsius.

Future plans
In the coming years, Zentoo is aiming to grow its cooperation with members and grow Zentoo branded chrysanthemums on 100ha within a few years. According to van Uffelen "We see the demand for the Zentoo brand and as I said before, we see more and more consolidation in the market. We unburden growers by taking over and centralizing several activities. In turn, the growers can fully focus on what they are good at and passionate about; growing."

For more information:
Danny van Uffelen

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