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Christian Schwartz, Gartneriet Rønbæk:

Denmark: "We never had such low prices for such a long period"

"I think we never had such low prices for such a long period", says Christian Schwartz of Gartneriet Rønbæk. This Danish phalaenopsis grower explains that 2018 has been a challenging year. "There was already an overproduction and the hot summer in Europe only made it worse. Now, prices are finally up a bit, but we have way fewer plants to offer than usual during this time of the year." 

Christian Schwartz. The phalaenopsis plants are produced in a 2ha greenhouse in Hinnerup, nearby Aarhus, and their main market is Denmark. 

Overproduction and hot summer
At the end of May, the prices started to drop and recovered a bit in September, Schwartz tells us. The two main reasons for this decrease in price is the overproduction and low demand. "The European market was already dealing with an overproduction of phalaenopsis, which resulted in a decrease in price. And when the temperatures started to increase in combination with sunny and dry days in Europe, the demand dropped even further. On top of that, the heat resulted in a faster growth of our crop." In turn, they had too many too early. "In July and August we had way too many plants and as they were (due to heat) mostly one spike plants, we had to sell them way too cheap."

Low production
As there were so many plants ready too early, the supply of Gartneriet Rønbæk was lower afterwards. "In the month of November, we had 40 percent fewer plants compared to November last year." Fortunately, the low supply increases the prices a bit, but it does not heal the wounds. "Even if we had the same supply as last year, it is still worse."

Christmas season - Later demand
Usually around the second week of December, when all other Christmas plants, like poinsettia and schlumbergers, have been sold, we see the demand for phalaenopsis increasing. However, this year, it seems that the demand started to come later. "Just this week, we have seen the demand increasing a bit." 

Lower prices all year
When comparing 2018 with 2017, Schwartz notices that the prices were lower. The 12 cm phalaenopsis is a crop that is produced in high numbers and therefore suffered the most. On top of that, the whites did not do well either, and we've heard that Dutch phalaenopsis growers were struggling as well.

So how to move on in such a challenging situation? "First of all, we just try to hang on. We are one of the few phalaenopsis growers left in Denmark. We still think that the Danish people are eager to buy products from a local grower instead of importing them." 

But of course, they are also looking for ways to innovate. "We also see potential in new, improved and unique varieties. Therefore, we started to collaborate with a German breeder."

For more information
Gartneriet Rønbæk
Christian H. Schwartz
Email: [email protected]