In 2018, Syngenta acquired Floranova to enhance its flower business in fast-growing Asian markets. Three years later, Gerard Werink, Commercial Director of Floranova, tells more about the benefits of their dual-brand strategy and expanding their markets.
Broadening their global markets
The reason for the acquisition three years ago was to combine their strengths and broaden their markets, Werink explains.“Floranova had experienced exciting development and growth, particularly in the Asian markets. The acquisition of Floranova by Syngenta would make both stronger and better placed to face the challenges in a highly competitive marketplace. For many years, Floranova’s breeding has been focused on products that work well in warm climatic conditions. The breeding of Syngenta, on the other hand, was more focused on the European and American climatic conditions. This resulted in a situation where Floranova had a strong position in Asian and Middle East countries, and Syngenta was especially strong in the US and Europe. The acquisition, therefore, broadened the genetic base of Syngenta for the global markets.”
Sharing knowledge and resources
The expansion also entails the advantages of sharing their knowledge and resources. “The cooperation has worked so well, as the Floranova breeders now have access to new breeding techniques and a lot of experience from the Syngenta breeders. Sharing our knowledge and resources has also led to improvements in seed quality and production reliability, and we now have a much larger assortment with more focus on the warmer areas in the world. Another exciting advantage is that the exchange of material has led to faster and better introductions of new series.”
Dual brand strategy
Yet the acquisition should not be seen as integration, as they operate a dual-brand strategy that builds on the strengths of both businesses. Werink: “In most areas of the world we continue to work as two different companies with both our own genetics, sales teams, and marketing organizations under a dual-brand strategy, competing with each other as we would with any other competitor. In breeding we also continue to work as separate companies, with the focus on developing strong assortments for both companies. But we do work together on breeding technologies and make use of each other’s knowledge and experience.”
In Europe, they decided that the wholesale business of both Syngenta and Floranova will be managed by Floranova under the Floranova brand. "This provides separation of wholesale from Syngenta’s direct to grower business, enabling a better service to the wholesale customers, transparency, and a clear independent strategy to support wholesale customers by an independent company long term."
The US, however, is an exception to its dual-brand strategy. “Floranova’s market share in the US was very small meaning it was hard for Floranova to compete in the US arena. Furthermore, the customer base in the US for both companies was the same. Therefore, in the US, all Floranova business was transferred to the Syngenta organization under the Syngenta Flowers brand name. In case of genetic overlap, the best series are offered.”
So, three years later, how are things going? “It is remarkable to see how well both companies seem to be a perfect match. The cooperation enables us to serve a much broader customer base with the proposition that they require. We have great opportunities to make our breeding programs more efficient and now have specific breeding locations to develop varieties in all different climatic zones. As a result, we have a more extensive genetic portfolio and many exciting developments to come from both genetic houses. Of course, 2020 was a difficult year as the lockdowns in several countries and the uncertainty had a big effect on our business – it was sometimes very difficult to ship the seeds to the different countries due to the restrictions and the available shipping capacity of airlines. Fortunately, the market recovered fast and 2021 seems to be a very good year for the whole international flower business. Even though there are still countries that are suffering a lot from lockdowns and high infection rates, like India and Pakistan.”
And when looking at the future, they have many plans, besides breeding and introducing new varieties. “We know cooperation helps to become more efficient and become more and more a partner of our customers. And our value chain is changing as well; we see more integration. Therefore, we are working on further intensifying our contacts with the larger retailers, platforms, and authorities, and adding more interesting products to our future assortments.”
Besides the characteristics, the success of a variety also depends on the region. Below, Werink mentions some varieties that are performing well in different regions. “It is difficult to pick out the best performing varieties for both companies, as that depends a lot on the region. The Floranova Begonia Bossa Nova series, with the new Night Fever Rosso being the first real dark-leaved variety in this type, is doing very well in all regions. In APAC we see a lot of growth with the well-known Syngenta Penny Violas and for sure with the Vinca Cora XDR, which has multiple resistance against Phytophthora. But also, the recently introduced Vinca Sun Jewels is performing very well for Floranova, especially in the Middle East. And in African Marigold, we have now a super assortment with the combination of both companies. Market-leading series like the more compact Syngenta Antigua and the day length neutral vigorous Inca II are now accompanied by the Floranova triploid Endurance series with large flowers, no seed set, and therefore a very good field performance till the end of the season. This year Floranova has added two new white/Cream flowering varieties to our range: WhiteGold Max and WhiteGold Mini.”
WhiteGold Max and WhiteGold Mini.
New varieties in the pipeline
“We expect a lot of the new introductions for season 2021/2022 for both companies. Especially the Floranova African Marigold WhiteGold Max and WhiteGold Mini are already now in high demand. But also, the large-flowered Bellis BamBam series will be one of our stars now that we add the beautiful White Blush to the existing Rose and Red. This series needs no vernalization and is very uniform in habit and flowering time. And I should not forget the addition to the Bossa Nova series: Night Fever Rosso, which has almost black foliage that contrasts very nicely with the deep rose flowers.”
Bossa Nova Night Fever Rosso.
Eager to see the Floranova products, such as their new Night Fever Rosso, the first dark-leaved variety in their Floranova Bossa Nova series? Visitors are invited to come to the Summer Trials at Syngenta, De Lier, the Netherlands in week 24. Click here to make an appointment: www.floranova.com.