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Corona crisis; country updates

In this article you will find an update from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), who are involved in the crisis measures surrounding the Coronavirus and informs Royal FloraHolland about the impact of the virus on the export market.

The Netherlands
On 16 April, the entire House of Representatives agreed to a proposal by the CDA and the VVD to arrive at a specific labour cost scheme in coordination with the seasonal sectors. The Lower House calls on Minister Koolmees (SZW) to work out a separate scheme for seasonal sectors. LTO Nederland will continue to hold talks with the Ministries of SZW and LNV so that companies with a seasonal turnover can be helped quickly with an appropriate labour cost scheme. (Source: De Bloemisterij trade journal, 17 April 2020)

Rabobank's sector specialists expect turnover for cut flowers to drop by approximately 70% in the second quarter and by approximately 40% in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. For flower bulb businesses, they expect the drop in turnover to continue the longest, with an estimated 15% drop in the fourth quarter. In the report 'Corona crisis affects food and agri', Rabobank writes that all measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in a substantial drop in turnover for almost all sectors of agriculture and horticulture, especially ornamentals and businesses supplying the hotel, restaurant and catering industry. Approximately 80% of all Dutch cut flowers, plants, bulbs and trees are destined for export. Countries have not classified ornamental plant cultivation as a vital sector, with the direct result that exports have been greatly reduced. In addition, the demand for flowers is also declining due to a reduction in festivities, according to Rabobank. It is precisely the peak period from March to May that is enormously important for the sale of flowers and plants. The corona measures therefore affect the entire chain: starting materials, production, auction, trade and retail. (Source: Floranews, 17-04-2020)

The export of ornamental plant products came to a virtual standstill after the lockdown because of the corona virus in many European countries, but is now picking up again, according to Matthijs Mesken, director of the Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products (VGB). "We see light again at the end of the tunnel. Although the differences between companies are very large." Domestic trade is booming at the moment. Exports are a different story: of course many countries and shops abroad are closed, although fortunately there are exceptions as well. Scandinavia is doing well. English supermarket chains run reasonably well, until Mother's Day two weeks ago the trade there even went very well. Germany and Austria are attracting again, the same goes for Poland and the Czech Republic. We're still gigantic in the minus. But we're not as gloomy as two weeks ago. (Source: Under Glass, 16-04-2020)

Garden centres and DIY stores are reopening all over Germany. Around this weekend shops will open in the last three Länder that were still closed. In Germany, these are the states of Bavaria, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Bavaria in particular, with 13 million inhabitants, is an important federal state for sales. Almost all shops, including garden centres and DIY stores, have been closed here since 21 March. On Monday 16 March, garden centres and DIY stores throughout Germany were allowed to remain open under certain conditions. Four Länder deviated from this advice. In Lower Saxony, garden centres and DIY stores reopened on 4 April. (Source: De Boomkwekerij, 17-04-2020)

In addition to pharmacies, shops selling food and pet food, newsagents, petrol stations, telecom shops and shops for medical devices, garden centres and tree nurseries that mainly sell plants and/or trees may also open. Wholesalers intended for the above-mentioned professionals may also resume their activities. The necessary measures must be taken to respect the rules of social distancing, in particular maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between each person. (Source: AVBS, 20-04-2020)

Flowers and plants straight from the farmer; The Belgian ornamental growers have grown a lot of flowers and plants in recent weeks, ready for use. Although the garden centres may reopen on Saturday, extra sales channels remain more than necessary. The Vlaams Centrum voor Agro- en Visserijmarketing (VLAM), the Steunpunt Korte Keten and AVBS, the Flemish ornamental horticulture and green federation, link our farm producers, who are very popular today, to our ornamental growers. As a result, plants are now also available in many farm shops. (Source: VLAM, 20-04-2020)

According to the online survey conducted by BCC (Business Center Club) on 14 and 15 April among a group of 600 companies in Poland, more than 84% of entrepreneurs believe that the economy should be thawed. According to companies, the main restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible mainly concern the services and trade sectors. In order to help effectively 'thaw out' individual industries and the economy as a whole, according to the entrepreneurs surveyed, all restrictions should be phased out in exchange for an order to wear face masks in public places, keep a safe distance and disinfect hands. noted that small and medium-sized enterprises in particular rely on making normal operations possible and opening cafes, confectioners and small service points, even by imposing restrictions on one customer in the premises. According to entrepreneurs, sales should start as soon as possible (to a limited extent, e.g. an access limit) in shopping centres In addition, they expect the restoration of the availability of hotels, accommodation and meals during business trips, business trips and teams, e.g. during the assembly of technology lines or the running of construction sites. According to entrepreneurs, it is worth following the experience of other countries: do more tests, reduce the isolation of society, speed up the return to work, make recommendations for medical treatment. (Source: Agro-messages abroad, 17-04-2020)

On Monday, Switzerland will partially reopen five border crossing points with France in the canton of Geneva to cope with the expected resumption of border traffic in the near future. The FCA says it expects a sharp increase in border traffic from 27 April following the government's announcement this week of a crisis exit plan. More traffic is already expected from Monday 20 April due to factors such as the end of the Easter holidays and the resumption of travel to work in certain economic sectors. Entry from neighboring countries is only allowed for Swiss citizens, people who have a residence permit and people who have to travel to Switzerland for professional reasons. In the canton of Geneva, nine points are currently open or partially open, with the cantonal police assisting customs in carrying out checks. (Source: Swissinfo, 19-04-2020)

From 27 April the garden centres in Switzerland will open again. (Source: The Tree Nursery, 17-04-2020)

Czech Republic
The demand for garden plants is increasing in the Czech Republic. People are becoming more accustomed to the circumstances. The measures in the Czech Republic are becoming more flexible. Shops of up to 200 m² may reopen from 27 April, this will generate traffic for visiting flower shops and garden centres. (Source: International AM weekly update, 16-04-2020)

Do-it-yourself chains and garden centres, which were initially able to remain open and started the garden season with positive results, had to close from 27 March. This has a major impact on the industry. Growers have to throw away large quantities of bedding plants as only the supermarkets sell a limited assortment of flowers. The restrictions have been extended until the beginning of May. (Source: International AM weekly update, 16-04-2020)

Kenya Airways has been forced to ground a number of its cargo aircraft due to a shortage of flight crew, who are in mandatory quarantine. The airline is unable to meet the demand for cargo space due to a lack of crew. (Source: Business Daily, 1604-2020)

Freight capacity to Europe has decreased by 70%. Cargo agents have a backlog of cargo at the airport of up to six days and advise growers to reduce delivery to 30% of normal numbers. Forwarders expect - without further setbacks - to resolve the backlog by 19 April. (Source: GSS update by region, 17-04-2020)

The supply of Kenyan growers ranges from 20% to 70%, most growers currently do around 40%. (Source: International AM weekly update, 16-04-2020)

Ethiopian growers control on average 35% to incidentally 60% of their production. (Source: International AM weekly update, 16-04-2020)

South Africa
KLM currently uses four cargo planes a week for the Amsterdam-Johannesburg-Harare-Nairobi-Amsterdam route. Fresh products, including flowers, make up an important part of the cargo. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 20-04-2020)

Gerbera's production sites have been hit hard by the emergency: sales fell 30% in March as a result of collapsing demand. On 15 April, the price was 15 yen, 10 yen lower than the previous year. Another problem is the supply of gerbera seedlings from abroad. Delivery has been delayed due to limited air freight capacity and longer clearance procedures at the airport, as all international flights to Japan are concentrated on Haneda and Narita. The social distance in the workplace and the priority given to perishable products lead to longer waiting times at the airport. Nurseries are now reusing current seeds in the ground, even with negative consequences such as low harvests, requiring more care for the plants. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 17-04-2020)

As a result of a cancelled annual flower festival, the authorities have cut 800,000 flowering tulips in eastern Japan to prevent people from collecting these tulips en masse. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 20-04-2020)

Source: Royal FloraHolland

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