NL: Plant sector helps set export record for October

Mainly due to a strong increase in plant exports in October, the total value of exports including flowers is comparable to last year at 5.1 billion euros. It also means that the 2017 record of 6 billion euros is within reach, according to predictions from Floridata. The sector has profited from the positive image of green, in the retail segment the growth is structural and digitization continues. But the dependence on currencies and Brexit remains worrying, according to the VGB (Association of Wholesalers in Horticultural Products).

After the first three quarters of this year, the export value of flowers and plants from the Netherlands was behind 1 percent compared to the same time last year. Thanks to the 5 percent increase in October, the decline has been virtually eliminated and the total export value is 5.1 billion euros. Plant exports rose by 10 percent in October and are up 3 percent with 2 billion euros. Flower exports went up 3 percent in October, but the total increase is still at 2 percent with 3.1 billion euros. "With another two months to go, the record of € 6 billion from 2017 is again in sight. But that will require some effort by the exporting wholesalers", says VGB director Matthijs Mesken.

Positive effects of plants
Dutch wholesalers have noticed that the positive effects of green on the living environment and one's well-being are increasingly appreciated by the public. "We have known this for years and the communication about this is now beginning to bear fruit," explains Danny Gerritsen of Nieuwkoop Europe. "It's structural and therefore we can now expand further", referring to the new building at their site in De Kwakel. "What first seemed to be a hype has now become a trend," adds John Buskermolen from Waterdrinker Aalsmeer. Stefan Verhoeff, general manager at retail specialist Van Dijk Flora, has the feeling that plants are more popular now among young people. "Plants seem to get a bigger place on supermarket shelves. Flowers are stabilizing", he observes. "And what's helping plants is that consumers generally have a little more to spend."

Strong retail channel growth
In 2012, the various retail channels (supermarkets, garden centers and hardware stores) had a turnover share of 30 percent. Through October this year that share is 40 percent. Europe-wide, the importing wholesaler and the position of florists is under pressure. "The differences per country and region and per segment are significant, but the trend is clear," says Wesley van den Berg of Floridata.

Digitization on the increase
The use of web shops, internet and platforms, which began in the flower trade in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, is increasing a lot in important markets like Germany and France. "Especially around the big cities. This offers opportunities to strengthen our international trade position. We can work more efficiently and bring our distinctive product concepts directly to consumers," says Buskermolen.

The dependence on currency developments in important markets such as the UK, Russia and the US remains an area of concern for exporting and importing wholesalers. Dutch flower and plant suppliers seem to be more concerned about Brexit than British wholesalers are, according to Buskermolen and Gerritsen. For the retail segment it's different, but there are still many unknowns. "We don't know what the phytosanitary rules will be. And the flow of fresh products through the ports is crucial for our products," says Buskermolen.

source: Floridata

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