Sylvie Mamias on the international Union Fleurs association

Giving floriculture trade the recognition it deserves

“Our total membership represents about 80% of the global floriculture trade, so we have a good representation of the international market of cut flowers and potted plants. In our industry, it is important to have a collective voice that gives visibility to important topics, such as market access and sustainability,” explains Sylvie Mamias, Secretary General of Union Fleurs. The international floriculture trade association is based in Brussels, as one of its key roles is to represent the common interests of its members towards the EU institutions. “The impact of the start of the pandemic is a good illustration of our work. When such challenges arise, we are able to get the attention of governments and policymakers to make them aware of the specificities of this industry and channel support.”


Sylvie Mamias at the IFTF 2021

Market access
Mamias explains that one of the top priorities for the association is to promote seamless markets and trade and remove trade barriers along the supply chain. “We aim to facilitate this from production to consumption, with all the steps in between. Therefore, anything that can impact the flow of products along the chain is something that we  try to bring attention to towards people with influence.” Over the past 60 years, Union Fleurs has successfully advocated the interests of the floricultural trade on these topics and influenced policy-making, resulting in many achievements that nowadays benefit the floricultural trade in their daily operations, such as phytosanitary requirements, duty-free tariffs, and market access conditions. Concerning market access, there have been a number of important developments over the years. “Since last year, there has been growing pressure on logistics, as a result of the lack of transportation. However, there are also more structural and longer-term developments, such as the sustainability of transportation. How can we ensure that flowers can continue reaching markets, but in a more sustainable way? Diversifying means of transportation and utilizing more sea freight, for example, would significantly reduce carbon emissions. Concerning these longer-term issues, we as an association can have more of an influence, and we need to think together to promote solutions that benefit everyone along the supply chain.”

A growing protectionist agenda
According to Mamias, the global trade of flowers has traditionally functioned on free trade. However, she explains that there is a growing agenda for protectionist policies and local sourcing. “Such a development would result in a reduction of the global trade and would ultimately impact the smooth functioning of the supply chain, the sourcing offer, and ultimately the choice of products for final consumers all year-round. With highly perishable products such as flowers and plants, it is essential to ensure optimal operating conditions and a regulatory environment that facilitates the movement of products. Therefore, we are very vocal in defending the interests of our members in these areas. We need to ensure that borders will remain open and that the international trade will continue in optimal conditions to support the continued growth of the floriculture industry.”

Similarly, Brexit has been a recent topic of high relevance for the association. “Brexit has created new barriers to reach the UK market, which has created a number of challenges for companies that operate on that market. The plant passports and phytosanitary certificates that are now necessary, for example, can make their export more expensive and challenging. Of course, we do not want to fight against the regulations regarding pests, as the trade needs to ensure that they are sourcing and supplying safe products that are free of pests, but the requirements for additional documentation need to be optimized to limit red-tape and extra costs on operators. Therefore, we have been supporting the development of electronic systems at the international level to be used for phytosanitary certificates for many years. This will create much more efficiency for companies.”

A crossroad
“As an international association, we have a collective voice with which we can achieve much more than a single company or country could. It is ultimately for the benefit of the whole industry that we are working together,” says Mamias, and the association’s work is not done yet any time soon. “If we look ahead, the industry is at a bit of a crossroad. On the one hand, there is a growing interest of consumers in our products, creating great opportunities. Yet at the same time, there is a number of challenges on the way, particularly in the sustainability area. As these are issues that the industry needs to address, we will continue our efforts together with our membership and with our extended network in the international floriculture industry. To move forward, the industry needs to anticipate and recognize its collective challenges and work on them together to embrace changes and secure new opportunities. If we can stimulate together a responsible, sustainable, and positive industry, we can be assured of a future of growth that will benefit everyone.”

For more information:
Union Fleurs
Sylvie Mamias
secgen@unionfleurs.org
www.unionfleurs.org


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