Commercial flower power: How the global flower trade continues to blossom

But the flower industry is bigger than just one day, and flowers are more than just nice-looking, pleasant-smelling plants. They're the backbone of a global industry that, by some estimates, trades nearly $30 billion in annual volume, and, like a faithful patch of peonies, continues to steadily grow, year in, year out.

And that's what we're looking at today: the global flower trade, with its unique set of rules, blossoming new power dynamic, and need for speed to move its product around the world.

Planting Seeds
Flower trading and selling, in some capacity, has existed for many centuries. But most trace the flower trade as we know it today back to at least the seventeenth century, when the Netherlands began importing tulips from the Ottoman Empire, sparking the infamous Tulip Mania. That extraordinary bubble's place in history was cemented by the still-influential book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, written by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay over a century later.

By the 19th century, the Netherlands, primarily via the Royal FloraHolland auction house at Aalsmeer, near Amsterdam, grew to become the world's top powerhouse in the flower trade, a distinction it still retains.

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