Netherlands: Rose-growers suffer from high gas prices

In recent weeks and especially days, worrying reports have been coming in from rose growers who say they are going partially or totally 'cold'. In other words, the stove and lamp are turned off, the crop falls asleep and production comes to a standstill. The cause is the much-discussed gas price, which peaked at 1.80 a cubic meter a fortnight ago.

"With that price during this cold and dark winter weather, it goes without saying that this cannot be sustained for long." We spoke to one of the rose growers, who didn't want to be named. Not that it is a secret, he and fellow growers send letters to customers themselves to inform them of the situation, but 'preferably not in the media'. Fair enough, energy-intensive ornamental and vegetable crops are affected everywhere, while the differences between them, depending on whether or not supply contracts have been concluded, can be enormous.

The fact is, however, that in the roses sector alone, a small dozen growers have indicated that they will be temporarily stopping part or all of their operations. Nice2Get, which had its greenhouse for sale, has stopped early (last Thursday the last carts arrived before the clock). Porta Nova has announced that they will be putting White Naomi on ice and, looking ahead to Valentine's Day, will be going for Red Naomi! Royal Roses goes completely cold; Bernhard Roses (as far as the roses are concerned) idem; and so on. At this very moment, the grower quoted earlier says, the current supply of Dutch roses must be at least a quarter less than usual.

Export in trouble
Robert Stokman, with his company D'Auria Holland a 'small company but big exporter' in Italy, sees it through his members' eyes. "The Dutch rose is becoming scarce and expensive. We buy a relatively large number of roses, but the normal market forces will drive the prices up. This is also because roses from South America have practically stopped coming our way due to huge transport costs, and because the African rose is struggling with rain and botrytis, which is not unusual either."

Real problem, real prices
Major problems, in short, that are hard to ignore. Besides, it is also very questionable whether prices will fall to reasonable values in the foreseeable future.

"But there is another side to this story, and I would like to emphasize it more," says René Stokman, owner of Flower Update & PureRoses. This company supports and represents a group of Dutch rose growers in their sales and branding, and therefore Stokman has a good view on the state of affairs. "The problems are real, but you can and should see opportunities. The Dutch market has always been extremely spoiled; all over the world a bunch of roses costs a great deal more than what it costs here. There, it is comparable to luxury products such as champagne and perfume, products for which the Dutch consumer is also often willing to pay a lot of money. The Dutch rose is increasingly becoming a luxury product, a specialty, and gradually people will start to experience that a real price has to be paid for it. And that also applies to trade."

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