Dutch flower planter grows business with China's development

When Tim Scalongne's plane touched down at the airport of southwest China's Yunnan Province in 2004, the Dutchman never thought this would be the start of his decades-long experience with floriculture. Situated at a high altitude and low latitude, the province boasts long sunlight hours and good weather. 

At the start of the new millennium, the province took advantage of its location and environment and set up industrial flower parks and floral exchanges in Kunming. As a potential flower market, flower business people and botanists from countries, including the Netherlands, came to Yunnan for new opportunities. "In my Dutch network, everybody was talking about investing in Kunming's flower business. That's when I decided to jump on the board," said Scalongne.

After receiving language training in Kunming, the provincial capital, Scalongne followed suit and joined one of the Dutch fresh-cut flower providers in Kunming to start his over-decade journey in this industry. However, Scalongne realized that not many Chinese households were warm to buying high-end blooms produced by Dutch investors. "A limited number of people at that time would buy quality flowers, and some of them bought flowers only for events and hotels," Scalongne said. "The market volume was small, but many Dutch believed China would have more high-end flower consumption once the country's middle class expanded."

In 2012, Scalongne's company had around 95 percent of its production exported to markets outside of China. But in 2022, over 70 percent is for Chinese customers. "When you see households in China's coastal regions, especially people in their 20s or 30s, they are very interested in putting high-quality flowers in their homes to enrich their lives," Scalongne said.

The wait paid off in the end, and China's effort to combat poverty also yielded new opportunities for Scalongne's business. "We would hire workers living in poor households with the government's encouragement," said Scalongne. "Reciprocally, those workers can also help us alleviate labor shortage."

Read the complete article at www.news.cn.

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