Anton van der Zalm, Armada

"Unique genetics guarantee ever more innovation in the chrysanthemum segment"

Amanda Young Plants started its activities on January 1, 2007, and this makes the company one of the youngest breeders in the field. In recent years, the breeder has built up a strong market position and broad assortment with products such as chrysanthemum and aster. They are now active in more than 50 countries and they have, outside of the Netherlands, facilities in China and Colombia. Their headquarters are located in De Lier.

We spoke to sales manager Anton van der Zalm, who is one of the founding fathers of Armada. "The heart of the company is formed by a number of people who each have a background in chrysanthemums and a love for the product. This love has everything to do with the enormous diversity this crop segment has. There are few ornamental crops having so many varieties as the chrysanthemum, both for cutting and for potting. Every possible color and shap is available, except the color blue of course."

The diversity can partially be explained by the relative speed with which chrysanthemums are bred. "To introduce a new tulip on the market on a commercial scale can take up to twenty years, but it takes only three years for a new chrysanthemum. This provides a different, quicker dynamic." 

Within the chrysanthemum business there are multiple companies which have been active for decades and have developed a strong assortment. Nontheless Armada, through unique genetics, managed to acquire itself an interesting market position. A good example makes the remarkably red chrysanthemum Bontempi. Anton: "This one was discovered during the hot summer of 2009 during a trial in which all chrysanthemums struggled. Except the Bontempi, which stood like a house. Also in our assortment of pot chrysanthemums we have a few examples that stand out, like the Beauty Elegant Pink, grown in pot size 14 cm, which received a lot of attention during the Trade Fair in Naaldwijk last year."

Beauty Pink Elegant
The only producer can testify what is so special about the Beauty Pink Elegant. Theo Nederpel: "We want to grow exclusive products and often visit trials to cherry pick. In this way, we ended up with the Beauty Elegant Pink from Armada. The variety is a real addition to our assortment - we missed a pink-white one in the lighter color segment - and because we are also the only supplier in Europe, we intend to sell large quantities of them."

From week 23 onward, the grower hopes to sell 12,000 twelve centimeter pots and 4,000 fourteen centimeter pots every week for daily trade. The goal is to increase that number to a minimum of 20,000 in the near future. "And that is going to happen, because we have already received some orders during the Trade Fair, and later on the Spring Fair."

Returning to the remarkable dynamics in the chrysanthemum sector, one can also point to a kind of 'we are stronger together' mentality. "At least, this is how we experience it. On the one hand, many growers are opening the doors for us, and we can conduct tests with new varieties in many places. On the other side, the chrysanthemum segment has a remarkable cooperation in the Chryson foundation, to which practically all growers and breeders are connected to. Chryson cooperates to promote the chrysanthemum. This has led to strong contacts with florist associations in many European countries and has increased the popularity of the chrysanthemum in various countries. In that regard, we are all focused on the same goal."

Across the border
In spite of growing so fast, the company is relatively young and relatively small, and they are looking to cooperate with others in various fields. If you do it smartly, it has advantages, according to Anton. You can organize the already mentioned trials with customers all over the world and see how the various varieties grow in the various climate conditions and under varying - 'not everywhere it is as organized as in the Netherlands' - cultivation conditions. Cooperation also takes place in the field of cutting production, for both the chrysanthemum and aster. "Our partners produce cuttings of super quality, and this gives us the option to focus on product and market development."

Limiting focus
They started with a large variety of crops twelve years ago, but now the activities of Armada are primarily focused on breeding, growing, and sale of chrysanthemum and aster. The plans for the next twelve years are no different. "We want to focus even more on market oriented breeding. We want to chart the various markets even better and study which customers and which specific cultivation locations benefit from which variety. In short, focused Product Management. Also, we are not done yet, there is always room for improvement. The perfect chrysanthemum has a set of properties we have not yet managed to combine in one variety. As long as the perfect chrysanthemum does not exist yet, we have our work cut out for us."

For more information:
Armada Young Plants 
Noordlierweg 18b
2678 LV De Lier
Tel: +31 (0)174-520713 

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