Growing cymbidiums successfully in a declining market

Cymbidium industry has declined over the last 10 years, but Joshua Cymbidiums is still operating successfully. The heading is a wee bit of an oxymoron, how can an industry be in decline but still be making a good return? My answer to follow:

Gus and Helma Sonneveld are the proud owners of Joshua Cymbidium, which grows one hectare of cut flower orchids, for international markets. They are situated in Pukekohe on the edge of the Waikato and Auckland border. They have a modern high-tech growing operation, which they have heavily invested in over the years. The glasshouse, built by Apex Greenhouse, has all the modern technology cymbidium orchids require to grow premium quality.

The New Zealand market exports approximately 90% of these cut flowers, predominantly to the US and Australia and Japan.  Gus said during the peak of the industry, 10 years ago approximately 300,000 boxes of orchids were exported but now it would sit annually at 120,000 boxes. Gus, born in the Netherlands, has been growing, in New Zealand, for over 30 years together with his brother Joe. Joe is running a .85 ha property in Drury. Gus and Helma built the Pukekohe property in 2011 and have focussed on the mid and late season production where Joe has focussed on the early varieties.  This has meant that Joshua has been able to supply their customers from the start to the end of the season.  Between the two sites there are 2 full time workers and 16 seasonal staff are required during the height of the season in winter.

Gus estimates there are approximately twenty cymbidium growers left in New Zealand, a considerable drop from a high of approximately one hundred or more in the past. As far as volume goes there are now only four growers of substantial size left.

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