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. This update is from May 15.

The Netherlands
The corona crisis is also having a major impact on the energy market: gas and electricity prices are unprecedentedly low, partly due to a drop in demand. In response to this, many growers are recording gas and electricity for the coming years. In addition, entrepreneurs who do not have their energy positions in order are losing more for their energy in these times. The corona crisis led to a free fall in energy prices in mid-March. Both gas and electricity prices have been extremely low since then. In the day-ahead market over 5 cents is currently paid per m³ of gas, in the long-term market 14 to 15 cents per m³. Electricity prices on the day-ahead market are currently around 20 euros per MWh; in the long term they will be 40 to 45 euros per MWh. A few weeks ago, there were even some negative electricity prices; something that had never happened before. The declining energy demand as a result of the corona crisis plays an important role in all this. (Source: Under Glass, 07-05-2020)

On May 12th 2020, International Nursing Day with this year's 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale, nurses and carers will take centre stage. Precisely on this day Suspended Bouquets will be launched, a collaboration of V&VN, and FleuraMetz. The movement stands for the cooperation between consumer, florist and charity/initiative. Symbolically, V&VN chairman Gerton Heyne donated a bouquet to nursing home nurse Marita de Kleijne on the Day of Nursing.

Suspended Bouquets was created to thank nurses and carers for their efforts against the coronavirus, without forgetting the craft of growers and florists. Nurses and caregivers deserve a flower, but the growers of these flowers and florists have been hit hard by the corona crisis. They want to contribute, but also have to earn money. That is why FleuraMetz came up with the initiative to be able to donate flowers and at the same time to let the grower and florist do business in a healthy way. (Source: Floranews, 08-05-2020)

The number of people in Germany infected with the coronavirus in the last 24 hours is 357. That number is falling sharply. In Germany, the Länder prefer to determine the corona policy themselves, all the more so because they find the government in Berlin far too hesitant when it comes to removing the lockdown. In the Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Lower Saxony, which border the Netherlands, the previously initiated easing is continuing at a rapid pace. On Monday, for example, all shops, large and small, will open again. Cafes, restaurants and beer gardens also reopen, but small pubs, clubs and discotheques generally remain closed. In North Rhine-Westphalia, education continues to normalise and stays in holiday centres and campsites are permitted. Lower Saxony also opens the doors of holiday centres. On 21 May, tourists in NRW must be able to stay in hotels again, in Lower Saxony on 25 May. (Source: De Limburger, 11-05-2020)

Germany will relax border controls with Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and Austria. The German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, also expressed the wish to allow free movement within the European Union again in mid-June, provided that everyone complies with distance and hygiene regulations. (Source:, 13-05-2020)

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) are intensifying their joint lobby for a financial support measure for the floriculture sector, again taking the Netherlands as an example. The aim is to implement a compensation scheme as soon as possible, as the Dutch government has done with its growers. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, 11-05-2020)

The branch organisation Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) welcomes the reopening of the garden centres - 70% of the plants are sold in the peak season of March-June - but despite the good news still wants a compensation scheme from the government: "A simple Dutch-style compensation scheme will help save our horticulture sector". (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 12-05-2020)

On Monday, May 11 2020, the government announced that the garden centres can be opened as of May 13. Garden centres in England reopened on Wednesday 13 May 2020, while those in Wales will be open from Monday 11 May 2020. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the garden centres will remain closed for the time being. The Scottish Prime Minister has suggested that an announcement on the reopening of garden centres could be made next weekend, while Northern Ireland will also reopen garden centres in the first phase of its plan, but no date has yet been given for this. (Source: Independent, 13-05-2020)

Research on sentiment among florists and garden centres in France during the lock down; in the period of 21-27 March 2020, sentiment in the sector has been researched on a daily basis in France. The research question is: how do garden centres, florists and their suppliers react to the 1st week of the lock down. The results of the daily survey in short: anxiety dominates permanently, anxiety and anger decrease, negative feelings are largely dominant, even if anxiety dominates, hope seems to return. (Source: JAF-info, 13-05-2020)

There is a great demand for flowers for Mother's Day in the Netherlands and surrounding countries; however, for Kenyan growers it is a challenge to transport their products to the Netherlands. In Kenya only 25% of the air freight capacity is available. This increases the freight costs and therefore the price of roses, for example. (Source: Floral Daily, 08-05-2020)

The Kenyan Minister of Transport, James Macharia, has approached 12 airlines so that - in addition to the efforts of the national airline Kenya Airways - the export of horticultural products remains possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: CGTN Africa, 08-05-2020)

Farmers are expected to lose up to KES 51 billion (€445 million) as a result of a decline in exports of horticulture, tea and coffee in the 4 months with Corona restrictions. The (export) demand for horticultural products is increasing, but there is insufficient cargo capacity and airlines charge high freight rates. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 11-05-2020)

There is less supply of flowers from Kenya because growers do not want to pay the expensive air freight prices. (Source: RFH, 11-05-2020)

Network Aviation Group has added extra B747F capacity to meet the demand for Mother's Day flowers from Nairobi. The aircraft was loaded with 100 tons of fresh cut flowers up to its maximum payload on its way to Liege for further transport through Europe. (Source: Floral Daily, 12-05-2020)

On the occasion of 'Nurses week' and '2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife' flowers were distributed to nurses in health centres on Monday. This was organized by the Kenya Healthcare Federation through Kepsa in cooperation with Elgon Kenya and the Kenya Flower Council. (Source: The Star, 12-05-2020)

Dozens of flower farms in Naivasha have been flooded after a sharp rise in the water level of Lake Naivasha. Greenhouses with flowers worth millions of Shilling are flooded, and many fear that the damage could rise further if the lake's water levels continue to rise. (Source: Standardmedia, 12-05-2020)

The Ministry of Agriculture indicates that Ethiopia has realized nearly 400 million US dollars in exports of horticultural products in the last nine months. According to the Ministry, the export of flowers is picking up again because some countries are easing coronavirus restrictions. Almost 50 to 60 percent of the flower companies have started to export their products again. (Source: Fanabc, 11 May 2020)

Italian growers' association is sounding the alarm; growers in the region of Pistoia, Italy, are eager for financial support. Francesco Mati, president of the Distretto vivaistico ornamentale di Pistoia (Ornamental Plant Nursery District of Pistoia), appeals to the Italian government and local authorities. In the last 2 months the commercial activities of nurserymen have stagnated as a result of the Corona virus emergency. On average, these still amount to 10 to 20 percent of last year's turnover. "A domino effect is imminent in this district."

The nursery district of Pistoia is one of the concentration areas of ornamental plant production in Italy. According to the Italian Chamber of Commerce, 1,450 companies were established in this region in 2019, with a combined production of 6,000 hectares. This provided work for approximately 6,000 employees. Last year, these companies had a combined turnover of 733 million euros, of which approximately 500 million came from exports. This export was in an upward trend in recent years, last year it increased by 7%.

With the corona and the resulting emergency in Italy and abroad, everything has changed. "In the last 2 months", Francesco Mati explains, "the commercial activities of the companies have practically stopped: in some cases this resulted in only 10% turnover compared to last year, in others in 20% or 30% and some companies have dropped to zero. This decline is more or less equally distributed between small, medium and large companies". An acute liquidity crisis is in the making. In addition to the loss of income, bureaucracy is a problem, government support has been pledged but no action has yet been taken. Moreover, Mati concludes, banks are keeping a hand on the cut. (Source: Associazione Vivaisti Italiani, 12-05-2020)

Since the relaxation measures (opening of garden centres, flower shops and retailers) there has been a strong increase in demand for flowers. During the lockdown phase, more people than ever would have bought online from flower shops. The Swiss florists' association suspects that this trend may continue at least in part in the future. Retail sales are again going surprisingly well. Significantly fewer flowers could be imported by Corona (e.g. from NL). The Swiss producers benefit from this: 'Swiss flowers are currently going through a rebirth', says the florist. There is currently an exceptionally high demand for tulips or gerberas. (Source: Aargauer Zeitung, 12-05-2020)

At the end of May MinAgri will announce how the horizontal support measure COVID-19 will work. The measure will compensate farmers for the loss of income resulting from the crisis and will be distributed after the harvesting period of each crop, when the losses can be accurately calculated. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 08-05-2020)

With the emergency measures the flower market collapsed. In May a few shipments were made for Mother's Day, but still the sector works with a capacity of 10% or 20%. The export of flowers is between 60 and 70 million dollars per month under normal circumstances, but now between the second half of March and the first of April exports would have dropped to about 10 million dollars. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of LNV, 08-05-2020)

Consumption of cut flowers is recovering, both in terms of price and volume. The prices of cut flowers have risen for six consecutive days, by 71 yen each, 3 yen higher than the average price over the last five years. This is a significant recovery compared with April, when the average price for a cut flower was between 30 and 39 yen. (Source: Agricultural Attaché Network Ministry of Agriculture, LNV, 08-05-2020)

Source: Royal FloraHolland

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