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GROW nr. 3 june 2016 Royal FloraHolland,s magazine for members and buyers

“Fittonia is the Mercedes of plants� Paul Schoenmakers Fittonia grower Nursery Schoenmakers

Theme: Sustainability in floriculture Big data: export to Great-Britain on the rise





Peonies, like asparagus, have a short season




The peony is a striking flower, and ubiquitous in May and June. Peony is a genus in the family Paeoniaceae. The botanical name (Paeonia) goes back to the old Greeks, for the Greek god of healing was named Paieon. To this day, the peony is considered to have healing powers. The peony season in the Netherlands is a short one, just like the asparagus season. The flowers can be harvested from the end of April until the end of July. Peony grower Corné van Aert (32) from Breda is one of the first Dutch growers that can cash in on his peonies, as he grows them in plastic tunnels. “Therefore I can cut them very early in the season, at the end of April.” He grows peonies on 4 hectares of sandy soil. He sells them mainly at the auction in Naaldwijk, but he also sends some to Aalsmeer, Rijnsburg and Veiling Rhein-Maas.



Paul Schoenmakers fittonia grower “A fittonia in every household, that’s our dream”

Jack Goossens, the new chairman of the supervisory board. “I want to focus on what growers have in common.”

p 10

p 12 Points of view Patrick Zuidgeest grows spathiphyllum, a plant that purifies the air.

Big data: the British market p 16 Editorial The central theme of this edition of GROW is sustainability. This theme is in vogue, in horticulture as well as society in general. It’s something of growing interest of consumers. They want to know where products come from, and whether they have been produced sustainably. And retailers want growers to switch to sustainable production as well. Royal FloraHolland, as market leader in floriculture, wants to do its part. “Consumers should perceive our floricultural products and the way they are produced in a positive way”, as Lucas Vos states in ’What’s driving’. For this is what we want in the end: making this world just a little bit better, nicer and healthier.

p 23 What’s driving Lucas Vos The road to 2020 Insights Globetrotter Cross-fertilization Trends Service Calendar Publishing details

4 6 18 20 26 28 30 31 31

What’s driving

Lucas Vos The central theme of this edition of GROW is sustainability. The media often write about it, and it’s something more and more consumers care for. Why is Royal FloraHolland now turning its attention to sustainability too? CEO Lucas Vos: “Royal FloraHolland needs to take its responsibility as market leader in floriculture. Our common goal: by 2020, all consumers should perceive our products and the production method of those products in a positive way. With our wonderful flowers and plants we want to make the world just a little bit better, healthier, and more beautiful.” “Companies should be transparent about what they do”, Lucas continues. “That goes for us as a cooperative and it goes for our members and buyers. We will be judged accordingly. This year for the first time as one of the top 500 companies, being audited by Ernst & Young on the basis of a transparency benchmark. And growers are under pressure to use quality labels or certifications. That’s why sustainability will get even more attention in the coming year. We’ll have a good plan ready for that, and we’ll be sure to implement it well. We’re searching to employ two programme managers at the moment, both fulltime jobs.”

Young people care about the climate Young consumers especially are loath to buy any flower or plant that caused damage to the environment. “Young people care about the climate and sustainability. The thirty-somethings of today take looking after the environment and indeed the entire globe very seriously. Another reason for us to focus on sustainability. Besides, a growing number of retailers demand eco-friendly products, and growers notice that the rules to produce sustainably are stricter then they used to be. Maybe we should ask ourselves if, by 2020, we should still trade goods that haven’t been produced sustainably.”

Do consumers of today care more for eco-friendliness and sustainability than they used to? “Well, we can wish all we want for consumers to spend more on flowers and plants, but that will only happen if we can overcome the negative perception of the floriculture sector in the media. Consumers base their opinion on this information. Flowers and plants are all about emotion, it can’t be helped.”

Liveable planet Lucas thinks Royal FloraHolland and the whole of the ornamental horticulture sector should much work harder at emphasizing the health connotations of flowers and plants. “Our sector can help to create a liveable planet. A planet on which the people feel happy and stay healthy because of the flowers and plants surrounding them. That’s a narrative we don’t tell nearly enough.”



What’s driving lucas vos

“ Our sector helps to create a liveable planet”




The road to 2020

Clock evolution, platform revolution Buyers as well as growers have clearly stated how they see the future: the clock auction is here to stay. Still, there will have to be some changes. Digitalization and fine-meshed logistics are promising options. What are the possible solutions as proposed in the New Auctioning? “Our current business model is under pressure.” Ronald Teerds, programme director of the New Auctioning, tells it like it is. “That’s not going to change. The turnover from direct trading has risen by 65 per cent, so the turnover from clock trading is falling. There’s an increasing amount of bigger and bigger companies, and that goes for buyers as well as growers. At the same time, the logistics have to get ever more fine-meshed, transporting smaller and smaller quantities. We’ll have to severe the



The road to 2020

connection between commerce and logistics if we want to keep the costs manageable.” Growth in Asia “At the same time, the internationalization outside of Europe is continuing. It’s quite remarkable that the horticultural sector is still growing, at about 6 per cent each year. There’s still some market share to be gained in Europe, but Asia has the real potential. The opportunities for Dutch floriculture are – literally and figuratively – further away then we are accustomed to. Besides, we have to deal ever more with disruptive changes in a playing field that is itself increasingly changing. Fiercer competition, for instance, rapidly altering markets and the availability of big data. These changes may seem threatening, but mainly they open doors for the horticultural sector.” Online platform for transactions “We believe in a 24/7 online platform for transactions”, Ronald states. “This will help to keep the price development stable and at an optimum level. User-friendly, of course! A platform that allows

Future “We’ll redesign the logistics. The mesh needs to get finer, that’s something we could achieve by mechanization. This summer, we’ll work out the details. For the moment, we have decided on a course. Now to refine the design. That’s what we’ll be discussing in the coming months with all parties involved. Also, we’ll be setting up small-scale experiments to gain experience. In December, we’ll have completed an action plan.”

the grower a great deal of control over what happens to his products. Supply reliability is very important, just like the extra options to cash in on added value. The clock is still a part of this – a virtual and efficient clock auction in the morning, combined with an ambitious reduction of costs. It’s essential that we bring reliability and quality to as high a level as possible.” ←

The road to 2020



The road to 2020

The needs of buyers and growers come first As a result of the new policy of Royal FloraHolland, we turn our full attention to growers and buyers. The account management team that’s implementing this policy has coined the phrase ’the real discussion’, referring to the six hundred talks they’ve had with buyers and growers. “The archetypical grower or buyer doesn’t exist. We want to take the needs of all our buyers and growers into account.”

“What’s keeping our growers and buyers awake at night, and what do they need? These questions should determine our management strategy”, continues Martin de Ruiter, manager account management at Royal FloraHolland. Big step Martin states his team has talked at length with buyers and growers in order to gain a better understanding of their needs. Sometimes, this was quite hard for the managers. “For several of the account managers it was a pretty big step to take. Some of them have had regular contact with their growers for a decade, and now they suddenly had to ask questions like ’But what is it you really want? 8


The road to 2020

And what kind of problems do you encounter in your day-to-day business?’” It’s a radically new way of working for Royal FloraHolland. The aim is to improve our understanding of the growers and buyers. “Traditionally, we merely transmit information. But we shouldn’t tell, we should ask. And we should talk about service. How can we contribute more to the success of an entrepreneur? We now distinguish different groups of buyers and growers. We’re abandoning the one-size-fits-all approach.” Come by more often What will account management and Royal FloraHolland do with the information? “The trick is to translate it into the right kind of service. We want to develop services for all segments of buyers and growers. That way, we know who to offer specific services to, and we can offer specific narratives to our buyers and growers. If it turns out some services don’t meet expectations, we’ll have to abandon those.” Do the account managers get any feedback on this approach? Martin: “Usually something like ’If this is what you call the real discussion, you can come by more often.’ And that motivates us to take this approach much further.” Opportunities The first step consisted of listening to both buyers and growers. Following that, an inventory was made of what segments of buyers and growers share the same needs. Martin provides an example: “Suppose we see a sales opportunity in Italy. Some growers will find it difficult to act upon that, because they normally only use the clock auction. Others might

What does Matthieu think of ’the real conversation’? “I’m all for it. Now we really work together in building our future. They wanted to know what’s of real importance to us, for instance. Our company, Unicum, focuses on retail. Account management will now offer specific, relevant services to us in order to increase our sales opportunities. Right now, we’re doing a trial with Retail Services of Royal FloraHolland. The aim is to explore the opportunities outside of the UK, which is one of our top markets at the moment. I expect to get a lot of new and interesting information.” Grower Matthieu Barendse growers association Unicum Freesia

want to know if there’s an export trader they can team up with to take this opportunity. And again others may want to establish direct links to the client of the buyer in Italy. Royal FloraHolland should provide a different kind of support to each group.” Novelty fair Is there any more to the new approach that is of benefit to buyers and growers? Martin: “Well, we could set up a novelty fair, aimed at growers and buyers that specialise in niche products. That would make it easier to bring a group of specialist growers into contact with buyers. We could target and invite these segments specifically. That would be something new.” ←

Ard feels Royal FloraHolland could listen more carefully to its buyers. “The conversations the account management have conducted should be properly translated so relevant services may be offered or developed.” Ard Wubben manager FleuraMetz

The road to 2020




Jack Goossens: “Entrepreneurship binds members to Royal FloraHolland” 10



At the last general meeting, Jack Goossens was elected as chairman of the supervisory board. Does he, as newly appointed chairman, have a message for the floriculture sector? “I want to focus on what growers have in common. What binds growers and the cooperative together is entrepreneurship.” Jack Goossens isn’t just a representative, he’s a businessman as well, running a bay plant nursery in the Dutch town of Nispen. He’s held many positions, for instance in the product committee for arboriculture, and consequently knows many growers personally. He has a clear message as new chairman of the board. “The media often stress how much growers differ from each other. Clock sales versus direct sales, national versus international. It creates the illusion growers have nothing in common, but that’s untrue. Members feel connected to Royal FloraHolland, in spite of these differences. What binds them to us is entrepreneurship. Each one runs his enterprise in his own way, sure, but that’s what makes it so divers. Each grower is unique.” Diversity growers As an example of this diversity, Jack points out the way growers ****approach the market. One of them may prefer presale at the clock auction. Another may focus on sales approaches. And again another will just try to produce the largest possible quantities. “Three valid ways to run your business, aimed at different parts of the market. Our job as cooperative is to focus on growers’ strengths. Together we form a single common marketplace.” Major changes What’s Jack’s task as new chairman, taking the 2020 strategy in account? “Finding starting points to improve our position, of all of us, in the market. So we can, ultimately, better provide our customers with what they ask for. We’re on the verge of some major changes in floriculture. That goes for the entrepreneurs as well as Royal FloraHolland. The question is, how do we deal with those changes?

Who is Jack? Jack Goossens is a representative as well as the owner of GOVA, a company in the Dutch town of Nispen that produces bay plants. That’s pretty unique, as it is the only company in Holland that grows and breeds these plants. Jack mainly deals with concept development. Also, he thinks of new sales approaches, not just packaging, but brochures and labels too. His brother Charl is the green-fingered one and supervises the day-today running of the company. For a few years, Jack already was a member of the supervisory board he’s now chairman of. He seems to have a knack for working as a representative, for he’s been region controller for Royal FloraHolland and chairman of the product committee for arboriculture as well.

Will members stay on board, and how do we keep them on board in the future?” The supervisory board will have to commit even more to the 2020 strategy, Jack feels, so it can influence that strategy. He gives an example: the project ’the New Auctioning’. “The auction process is digitalising. Therefore the product photos will have to improve. Plant growers especially should clean up their act. As Royal FloraHolland, we have to hand people practical solutions.” ←





• Paul Schoenmakers Age: 48 Residence: Oirschot • Ambition: To introduce fittonia to all consumers and get them put the plant in their homes or offices. • Motto: Enjoy the beautiful things in life. • Paul has a personal blog on our website. You can read it on www.royalfloraholland. com.




Fittonia should be known to all consumers In the whole of Europe there’s just one nursery that grows, breeds and supplies fittonia. The plant breeder’s rights rest solely with Schoenmakers in Haaren, the Netherlands. Paul Schoenmakers, one of the owners, is rather proud of this houseplant with a South American background. “Fittonia is so popular because of the many different colours. And what’s more, it’s a very sturdy plant.” →





• Company: Schoenmakers, located in the Dutch town of Haaren. Website: www.fittonia.nl • Developments: The plant nursery is currently evaluating its outward image. Also, the chef of Passion Cuisine, a nearby restaurant, has been using fittonia in some of his recipes. That is something to aim for: to market fittonia as a culinary houseplant.

Paul’s parents set up the nursery back in 1959. Their son Kees joined the firm some twenty years later, followed by Jan and Paul. In the nineties, the company Schoenmakers bought the plant breeder’s rights to fittonia Janita, which was the first variety to have these rights. The first fittonia of their own was named after Paul’s parents: Josan, derived from the names Jos and Anneke. Schoenmakers acquired the patent for Europe and is now the only company to both grow and breed this houseplant. “If plants are cars, fittonia is a Mercedes.”




A plant like a drawing By now, Schoenmakers has produced sixty varieties of fittonia. “And no variety looks the same”, Paul exclaims as he takes us on a tour of the greenhouse. He points out several varieties, pink, white, green, and all with different types of veins. It’s almost like Escher drew them. They all seem to have a different personality. “Look, it’s almost like this is a golden vein. It shines”, Paul states, pointing at a glossy leaf. Fittonia has its origins in Peru, where it is a ground cover plant, growing in the shade. Fittonia likes it hot, a climate that is provided for in the greenhouse in Haaren. Paul takes care of sales and logistics, while

“ If plants are cars, fittonia is a Mercedes” his brothers Kees and Jan deal with the growing technique, cultivating and breeding. Paul’s drive is to tell his clients and consumers the story of fittonia. “Only when you point out the details, the story starts to come alive. My ambition is to get every consumer to recognise and buy the fittonia. And to see to it there’s a fittonia in every house and every company reception area.”

Meeting demands By now, the nursery produces 12 million fittonias each year. They started out with just 2 million. “The trick is to produce enough to meet demands, and that’s also the hardest part of the job.” Production is running from week 32 until week 20 in the next season. That’s when demand starts to dwindle, so production comes almost to a complete stop. “In the summer we can experiment, try out different sizes for instance, and generally take it relatively easy. This way, we have a perfect balance between supply and demand.” ←




Big data

Export to Great-Britain is growing → The export of flowers as well as plants to the UK is increasing. The online market is the fasted growing sales channel in the United Kingdom. GROW interviewed Matthijs Plan, market developer at Royal FloraHolland, to get a reading on the numbers. You’ll find more on that on our website www.royalfloraholland.com.

Average sale price per channel €8.07 → Street market

Cut flowers

€6.88 → Supermarket

re 19%

Totaal 1,024,457 1,030,407 887,298

9% - Nursery 5% 6% Street m arke t 11 DIY sto % re -O th er

cent en G a rd



l -F


t is

% 32

t rke a rm pe u -S

€14.40 → Florist

963,675 1,059,432

Sales channels 2014 Houseplants in percentages

Import Flowers

Totaal 416,179





value x €1,000

Import Plants

value x €1,000 Netherlands







Spain 822,201





South Africa

France 291,835










Other 2010 16

2011 GROW


2013 Column Big data


Ireland Other

Dutch export flowers and plants value x €1,000

Flowers Plants



Flowers Plants





2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 544,311 570,154 620,721 610,955 622,066 159,139 173,908 170,318 180,996 187,097

United Kingdom England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland

€8.55 → DIY store €10.69 → Garden centre


€7.89 → Supermarket

t ke

€12.06 → Florist


r ma

Sales channels 2014 Cut flowers

4% 3% - Garden centre 2% 4% Nurser y 7 % - Ki os k -O th er

Online-consumption value 2015

eet - St r





i or




% 54

u -S


in percentages

value x €1,000



Cut flowers





2015 Column




Sustainability requires transparency “We should focus more on sustainability, for that’s an extremely important topic”, states Gijs Kok, manager external relations of Royal FloraHolland. “This is of growing importance to consumers, so we should act on this, as floriculture sector. Especially if we want to sell more flowers to more consumers.”

Sustainability is often in the news, so ornamental horticulture gets a lot of attention, both positive and negative. It’s regrettable consumers seem to remember the negative publicity better than the positive publicity. “It’s in the back of the head of the average consumer. Wasn’t there something about the position of women in Kenya? Wasn’t Greenpeace campaigning against dying bees? Consumers of today want to know more about the background of products, and whether they’ve been sustainably produced. Maybe the future lies in adding an ecological footprint to our products. The floriculture sector, and that includes Royal FloraHolland, should be far more transparent.” Gijs provides an example. In horticulture, we use a lot of single-use packaging. So it’s important to show everyone how much of this packaging we recycle, to show we’re acting in accordance with the principle of the circular economy. 18



Young people There’s no lack of sustainability projects in floriculture. Take MPS, which was started in the nineties to create a uniform system of certification for growers and traders alike. This year MPS will celebrate its 20th anniversary. “Sustainability is far from new. It’s just that consumers are more aware of it now. Especially young consumers, who don’t want any product anymore that’s not ecofriendly”, Gijs says. How come it’s specifically the young population? “Prosperity is growing, but at the same time, the climate goes berserk. Young people notice this, of course. They really want to care for nature, for the environment. They think to themselves, ’If we don’t do something, what will happen one day to our children?’” Science In days gone by, science set the standards for telling what was good and what not quite so good,

based on research. Both media and consumers used to take scientists more seriously, Gijs finds. “It’s a dangerous development, for people start doubting scientific reasoning. They say, ’Well, science is just another opinion.’ When Greenpeace claims cropprotecting agents are bad for bees, everyone just assumes that’s true. But it was never proven that goes for all agents, or whether it’s true for the use in greenhouses. At this moment, in 2016, the way consumers see science has really changed.” This is the new reality floriculture has to find a way to deal with. ←

“We feel we’re on the verge of a switch to sustainability. Retailers ask for it, consumers start to demand it. There may be a market still for not-sustainably produced goods in 2020, but it will rate lower and fetch lower prices. Eventually, what’s not eco-friendly will get in the way of the regular market.” Mieke van Berkel Manager marketing and communication, Noviflora

“We would like to just sell those products we feel comfortable with. The meaning of the term sustainability is constantly changing, depending on innovations in production. We take that into account, and constantly ask ourselves what the market is demanding and how we can meet those demands.” Leon Mol Senior manager product integrity, Ahold

“ Tulip growers strive for sustainability. At the same time, our growing methods need to be economically sound. Some supermarket chains demand lower and lower levels of residue. This way, the market is pushing towards sustainability.”

Fred van Schagen, Hensbroek Tulip grower and breeder, member of the Advisory Council for Flowers

“ On the one hand it’s a no-brainer, but on the other hand it’s an absolute necessity if we look at our society and the role our sector could play in it. I am convinced we can do more with sustainability and that we can bring that message across in a better way. There’s already a lot of this happening in the world of gardening, and we should show it, using the dictum ’be good and tell it’.” Frank van der Heide Managing director, Tuinbranche Nederland





This returning section features objects from all over the world, providing they have a direct link to international horticulture and Royal FloraHolland.

Flower carpets from Brussels set height record in Japan

(650 meters). One of the carpets was on the 4th floor and the other one was constructed even higher, at 450 meters. This is the highest flower carpet ever, so the Belgians People from Brussels created now hold the world record. In a flower carpet on the highest August, the famous Brussels’ altitude ever. To celebrate 150 Flower Carpet will be created for years of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Japan, three the 20th time, this time with Japan flower carpets were constructed in as its central theme. The flower carpet at the central square of Tokyo. The carpets were created Brussels will be 75 by 25 meters, in two days, with the aid of 70 Japanese volunteers. The first one featuring 600,000 begonias, as was in the Roppongi Hills, the other well as dahlias, several species of ornamental grasses and coloured two were located in the Skytree, which is the tallest tower in Japan bark.

Carnation, the ultimate Mother’s Day flower in Japan The red carnation represents passion, admiration and longing for someone. In the Renaissance, it symbolised love and was used to announce marriages. In Japan, the red carnation is the ultimate Mother’s Day flower. It also is the national flower of Spain. 20



Dutch flower shop in America

Will you feature in GROW? The upcoming edition will be published in September. Why not inspire the editors with photos of beautiful flowers and plants you might stumble upon while on holiday? Should you happen to see a remarkable floriculture product with an interesting story behind it, take a picture and send it to GROW@royalfloraholland. com. You might feature in the next edition!

In the mountain village of Jackson, New Hampshire, you can find Dutch flowers. They’re in the hotels and some of the houses of the 700 inhabitants. And they were bought in the ’Dutch bloemen winkel’ (= Dutch flower shop). It was founded by a Dutchman, Alex Rosenthal, the son of a Dutch rose grower. When Alex wanted to retire from the business, Carrie Scribner dreaded the loss of her favourite flower shop, so she suggested half-jokingly to take over. That was ten years ago, and she has been in charge ever since. “The name of the store does provoke some giggling. It’s hard to pronounce for Americans.” Carrie has four employees and sells not only flowers, but gifts and quality accessories as well – glassware from Europe, not from China. “We provide European flair, which means a better assortment, original floral arrangements and alternative designs. We sell flowers by the stem and by the bouquet, we offer quality and we sell novelties, like the latest variety of peony. The average American flower shop offers less quality and stocks mainly chrysanthemums, for example, because those are cheap, and roses because those are in demand. Our clients mainly consist of local residents and people that want to get married in the mountains and need a special bouquet.” She’s already booked solid with requests for floral wedding arrangements for the next six months. A lot of the flowers are imported from Holland, but Carrie has a little nursery of her own as well. She’s familiar with the Dutch floral market and with Royal FloraHolland. “I haven’t been to Holland these last few years because I’ve had a baby. But in April he turned three, that’s old enough to go see the tulip fields.”

Floral splendour in Italy In Cinque Terre, on the coast of northwest Italy, you can find luscious bougainvilleas. When you walk the mountainous paths between the five little villages, you get to see sights like this. Cinque Terre is a beautiful, rocky coastal area in the southeast of Liguria, Italy. It’s a nature reserve, and listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The name refers to the five villages that are precariously situated on the coast, connected only by a footpath (Via dell’Amore) and a railroad.




Points of view

“ Sustainability is being in balance with your environment“ Tree nursery Ebben, 450 hectares in the Dutch town of Cuijk – a company that’s all about trees, passion and sustainability. Toon Ebben talks to us about ’a terribly misused word: sustainability’. Toon Ebben is one of four brothers that work in the family business, once set up by his great-greatgrandfather in a monastery garden, growing roses and fruit. Toon: “Sustainability is very important in our company. But we still have to keep asking ourselves whether it’s from the heart or just a business model.” Toon states many people use the word sustainable because it’s a buzzword. “It’s undermining the true meaning of the term.”

Being in balance Why does Toon care so much about sustainability? “We have a responsibility to society as a whole to provide the public space with sustainably produced products. Part of that is telling the true story. Authenticity is the keyword of our company. Sustainability is thinking in terms of being in balance with your environment. The more resilient the trees you grow, the more they’ll be in balance with the environment they eventually end up in. That is what we strive for.” Growing method Ebben has various customers. The government, their biggest client (45 per cent), buys the trees for use in the public space. 35 per cent is sold to private institutions like libraries, schools, cemeteries and zoos. The remainder goes to various other projects, such as office gardens or even company roof gardens. All trees on the Ebben grounds are produced sustainably. That is to say, using a minimum of chemical control agents. Ebben uses organic fertilizers and takes ecofriendly measures to protect the trees against disease and infestation. The company also focuses on soil improvement. Ebben has earned the Milieukeur label, a quality label for eco-friendliness that is used by various consumer products. Bees are important Tree nursery Ebben holds bees in high regard. This fits in with the focus on sustainability. “We have our very own honey, produced by swarms of bees buzzing around our territory and our roof gardens. The hives are located in patches with mixed flowers between the trees. The plots with lime trees are highly valued by the bees; that’s where a lot of the hives are.”

“ Sustainability is telling the true story" Toon Ebben Tree nursery Ebben

Winner of the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award In 2016, Ebben won the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award, a prestigious award in Dutch horticulture. The company was entered into the competition because of the many business relations Ebben has, both in the Netherlands and abroad. Toon Ebben runs the nursery together with his brothers Hans, Ruud and Joep. A fifth brother, Bart, works in the motor vehicle trade. The brothers drew inspiration from their father, André Ebben. He was a tree grower as well as a garden designer and passed on the love for horticulture to his sons. ← You can read more about Ebben on www.ebben.nl




Air-purifying plants Grower Patrick Zuidgeest and his associate Laurens van Dijk care deeply for sustainability. From 1994 onwards the two men have been growing spathiphyllum on a total of 5 hectares, divided over the two nurseries of Bestplant in Poeldijk. It’s a sunny day in May and people are toiling away on this nursery in the Westland, as the region is called. It’s the week before Mother’s Day, always a pretty hectic period, Patrick explains. He is one of the two owners of Bestplant. His playpen stood in the tomato greenhouse of his father Hans, so Patrick was almost born to run an enterprise. Standing What does Bestplant do to stand out when it comes to sustainability? “We’ve been growing spathiphyllum, an air-purifying plant, for 21 years. During that time, NASA, the space travel scientists, published findings stating that some plants exhume oxygen in space, which is of benefit to people. These plants neutralise toxic gases and improve the humidity in space. And plants have a beneficial influence on the human psyche as well.” So Bestplant and fifteen other growers set up Air so Pure in order to create a label, aimed at consumers, that would really stand out. “A growers association was linked to it and now we have a whole range of plants and supply 150 stores as well.” Sending products to Germany Consumers see the label and instantly recognise it. That’s the power of Air so Pure, says Patrick. “It’s a very distinctive label.” Patrick, who handles the sales at Bestplant, is also on the sales committee of Air so Pure. The growers association is constantly seeking out new chain stores to supply. “We’ve already been sending our products over to Germany for two years now, to give but an example.” Health: a hot topic According to the Dutch entrepreneur, sustainability is a major issue for consumers in 2016. “Health is a hot topic in today’s society. People start to realise

things will have to alter, seeing the ever increasing problems with climate change. That’s where Air so Pure comes in.”

“Plants have a beneficial influence on the human psyche” Patrick Zuidgeest Spathiphyllum grower at Bestplant

Crop-protecting agents “Our company uses little crop-protecting agents as it is. One section of the nursery is reserved for organic growing. That’s where we test Swirski, a predatory mite that’s used against thrips. The results are promising. There’s a drawback though: it’s very limited, for many supermarket chains maintain a zero-tolerance policy towards whatever insect it may be. Also, countries like Russia and Norway have set the bar pretty high. This means we are forced to use pesticides.” Patrick thinks Royal FloraHolland should raise this issue when lobbying in Brussels. “There should be a single, clear policy throughout Europe.” ← If you’d like to know more about Air so Pure, you can check out the website www.airsopure.nl/en.

Points of view



Building a greener world with Let it Grow Royal FloraHolland has set up Let it Grow, an initiative to help progressive entrepreneurs that want to use flowers and plants in innovative products. Let it Grow provides assistance to these entrepreneurs and helps them to further develop their products, that hopefully will improve the lives of consumers. The spokesperson and initiator of Let it Grow is Silke Tijkotte. “We aim to point out the importance of flowers and plants to the consumer. Once a consumer becomes aware of this, he could have a happier and healthier life.” Green roofs and oxygen This spring Let it Grow took three Amsterdambased innovations under its wing. All three are by now available to consumers. The first one is called Rooftop Revolution, which is a platform to co-finance green roofs in cities. Green roofs provide, amongst other thing, cities with extra oxygen. In the long run, this should improve the well-being of city dwellers. Since Rooftop Revolution is opening up a new market, Royal FloraHolland members could profit. Feeling fine with office plants The second innovation is called Healthy Workers. The project aims to supply green walls to offices and measures the effects on the well-being of office workers. Let it Grow assisted by seeking out potential floricultural partners. As a result, Healthy Workers has now teamed up with export trader Waterdrinker – together they can let these green walls grow. Eco-friendly box of plants The third initiative is called Sprinklr. The idea is to provide consumers and businesses with an ecofriendly box of plants, that is renewed each season. These can be plants for the garden, the house or the office. Clients receive practical hints on taking care of the plants via an app. “This is extremely convenient for any client. They help him to take care of the plants and the box is delivered straight to his home or his office.” 24


Points of view

A vibrant floriculture sector Let it Grow fits in with Royal FloraHolland’s 2020 strategy. “Let it Grow connects us to people (like entrepreneurs and creatives) that are all about innovative products.” But surely, that goes for several growers and buyers in floriculture too? “Of course there are innovators in the sector. But they look at the cultivation itself, or growing processes. To better explain the importance of flowers and plants to the public we need new ways of using them.” ←

Would you like to learn more about Let it Grow? Please visit our website: www.letitgrow.org. You can also follow Let it Grow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #weletitgrow. www.instagram.com/letitgrow.org www.facebook.com/letitgrow.org

“Green roofs provide cities with extra oxygen.” Silke Tijkotte Royal FloraHolland Let it Grow

Product Proof shows how far floriculture has come in crop protection In the course of 2016, MPS will launch a new service, developed in cooperation with Royal FloraHolland: Product Proof. Product Proof is a system that can prove, aided by mandatory daily registration, certain substances have not been used during production. Retailers are ever more critical of the use of crop-protecting agents.

“ It’s all about transparency.” Anne Jan Steenbeek Royal FloraHolland

In mid-2015 Royal FloraHolland’s Anne Jan Steenbeek was asked to aid in marketing Product Proof. That was right up his street, as sustainability is a subject close to his heart, and he has been working in the floriculture sector for many years, and some of that time in marketing. Crop-protecting agents What does Product Proof do? It’s to be a product label that proves certain active principles have not been used during production. In 2015 a trial with twenty flower and plant growers was set up. By now there are fifty growers participating, and there has been interest from traders as well. There are meetings with traders to discuss how to implement or fine-tune Product Proof. “Growers have to record every day what and what amount of crop-protecting agents they use. Afterwards we check if the values found in a sample correspond with the agents that were used.” Preliminary results show the scores of cut flowers and potted plants are pretty similar. It also turned out that, whenever unregistered active principles were found, these usually originated from agents used in the parental material. One does not eat flowers and plants The unfamiliarity of consumers with crop protection, and the actions of Greenpeace to make people more aware of pesticides, are good reasons to go along with Product Proof. “This has been an issue for many years already when it comes to fruit and vegetables. Not surprisingly, as this concerns comestibles. One does not eat flowers and plants.”

Transparency Anne Jan: “We want to turn Product Proof into a product quality label. Retailers (like Aldi, Ikea, Edeka) call for sustainability. Retailers want to receive all information as to how the products are grown. It’s all about transparency. A grower must be able to provide guarantees his product is meeting all demands.” And it’s not just the retail that’s demanding sustainability, organisations like Greenpeace and Hivos are making themselves heard as well. “The problem is, we in floriculture don’t know really how to deal with this yet. Also, many growers don’t have a clue as to what residue levels are acceptable to the retailers. This is why we’ve come up with Product Proof. The market demands it.” ← Points of view




Ghent Floralies: urban green is soothing

The Ghent Floralies 2016, a spring exhibition with flowers and plants, had lots of natural creations on display. For the first time since 1985 the event was held in the inner city of Ghent. Visitors were inspired by the smell of flowers and Mother Earth.

Cultural heritage Dirk de Cock is managing director of the Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany in Flanders. Building up the exhibition took four weeks. Dirk: “This is cultural heritage. Growers from this region supply the products. This year’s theme was ’experience’. It’s very interesting to see the effect of flowers on a person’s psyche. Urban green is soothing. In years to come, more and more people will live in this city. That is why it’s very important to have more urban green.”




A history of 200 years The very first Floralies were held on the 6th of February 1809 in Ghent. The exhibition hall was just 48 square meters. There were a lot of rare plants on display, for those plants flowered in winter. Dirk: “That period, when the Floralies begun, was a time of growing wealth and thirst for innovations. The process of internationalization was set in motion. The exhibition proved to be a success and attracted more and more visitors each following year. This exhibition hall of the Floralies, by the way, was transformed into a train station by King Leopold in 1913.”

Mother Earth In the 19th-century hall one can smell flowers and Mother Earth. Visitors, many of them elderly, jostle to see all the beautiful works on display. “We come to see the Floralies every five years”, says Lucien from Ghent, who is clearly enjoying the show. “And every time it’s a completely different but equally splendid exhibition.” In a separate hall hundreds of hydrangeas, expertly attached to the walls, have been put on display. For more information, check out: www.floralien.be Cross-fertilisation



Trends Dave van Stijn is the owner of Bloompost – the first flower business in the world to use a patented packaging technology that’s been developed by Perfotec. De packaging method keeps vegetables, fruit and flowers fresh by reducing oxygen levels inside the foil. The company’s been nominated for a major American innovation award

Freshness is vital A consumer wants a cut flower to last. Dave: “To get fresh flowers you can either shorten the chain or put the flowers on hold. Our packaging puts them on hold. The required oxygen level to get a flower to fall asleep differs per flower. So we test every kind of flower and every batch. With the acquired knowledge we can compose an ideal bouquet that the consumer will be able to enjoy for a long time. The flowers revive as soon as they’re put in the vase.”




Packaging gets smarter During the packaging process a laser puts microscopically small holes in the foil. Those holes allow an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. A certain balance between oxygen levels and carbon dioxide levels will put the flowers to sleep. What’s more, water vapour can pass through the foil. This reduces the amount of moisture inside the packaging, so the risk of fungi and bacteria problems is reduced without dehydrating the flowers. Dave: “We can determine the exact amount of oxygen every flower needs. We adjust the packaging accordingly.”

Convenience “Consumers now can get their flowers delivered straight to their homes, together with the everyday shopping, via the Dutch supermarket website www.ah.nl. And not a drop of water is needed”, Dave states. That’s very convenient for consumers as well as retailers. Dave: “Retailers now can do without water and without a cooling system. Flowers can follow the same logistical route as, say, a jar of peanut butter. That opens up possibilities like new points of sale and new ways of delivering the flowers.”

Sustainability Dave: “This packaging keeps flowers fresh, even without water. In the vegetable sector, the foil reduces wastage by 40 per cent. Furthermore, think about the millions of liters of water you won’t have to use, as the flowers no longer need to be kept in buckets of water. And the foil is biodegradable as well.”

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On these service columns we share relevant publications from the floriculture sector with you. Also, there’s a horticultural calendar with upcoming important events. Do you have questions? Or do you want to contribute something inspiring from the ornamental horticulture sector? Email the editorial staff: GROW@royalfloraholland.com

Real estate Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer better suited for buyers and growers

GROW handed out at Meet and Greet Chrysanthemum

Our magazine GROW was handed out to buyers and members at the Meet and Greet Chrysanthemum that took place in the Keukenhof. Auctioneer Claudia de Garde personally distributed them and got some enthusiastic responses.

Royal FloraHolland is going to redevelop the oldest part (1971) of its real estate in Aalsmeer. The investment will be €22.5 million. The redevelopment is necessary to prevent out-of-date and unhealthy working conditions. Royal FloraHolland wants to keep its employees as safe as possible. Therefore the loading halls will be renovated and are to become a restricted area for trucks. The old clock tribunes (A+B) are to be demolished. The building will be reduced in size by 13,000 square meters. Royal FloraHolland is also investing in a new dock board area that will be up for rent. At the same time, old offices are to be pulled down and a new working environment will be created. All this should give the entrance of the Aalsmeer branch a grandeur befitting the international ambitions of Royal FloraHolland.

Van der Sar goes green Van der Sar Import, situated in De Lier in the Netherlands, is a company that imports and produces pots and vases. In consistency with its own sustainability policy, the company has upgraded the complete range of rattan products. Company director and owner Gerard van der Sar has worked for many years in the floriculture sector, trading plants. He started his own rattan factory in Indonesia so he would be able to control the production and find a more sustainable way of producing. “By being involved and working closely together with local authorities, we help to preserve the rain forest.“ Check out www.vandersar. nl/en/sustainable/ for more information.

← Israeli grower honoured by Royal FloraHolland Eelde Moshe Gokkes, an Israeli grower and supplier of Royal FloraHolland Eelde, last May reached the age of 80. Because of the occasion, Royal FloraHolland Eelde surprised Moshe and his family with a festive moment. Moshe has supplied Eelde and Rijnsburg with decorative greenery for the last 25 years. In those years a strong bond was formed between the grower and Royal FloraHolland.




Publishing details


Floating Flower Parade Westland 5 - 7 August

Flower Parade Rijnsburg

13 August

Flower Parade Vollenhove

27 August

GROW publishing details GROW is the magazine for members and buyers of Royal FloraHolland. It is published six times a year and is also available to read on www.royalfloraholland.com. Editorial office GROW, Postbus 220 2670 AE Naaldwijk E-mail GROW@royalfloraholland.com More information about our new magazine can be found at www.royalfloraholland.com/grow.

Flowers and Plants Fair Warsaw Poland www.greenislife.pl

1 - 3 September

Flower Parade Zundert

4 - 5 September

Autumn Fair Royal FloraHolland Naaldwijk 7 - 8 September

This third edition of GROW has been made by: Katja Bouwmeester (editor-in-chief), Rianne Nieuwenhuize (senior editor), Nancy Bierman (editor), Willem Goedendorp (proofreader), printing office Van Deventer bv, Marcel Bosma, mbgo.nl (graphic design), Nils van Houts (photographer), Erik van der Burgt (photographer), Cok van den Berg (photographer), Elske Koopman (freelance writer), Thomas Gerkrath, rijger.nl (translation). Photography p 20 red carnation: Wikimedia, Rick Kimpel p 21 photo Dutch flower shop: Carla Saenen p 21 Italy: 123RF p 24 Silke: Valentina Vos pp. 28-29: some of the photos were made by Bloompost No advertising Since January 1, 2016 it is no longer possible to advertise in this publication. Questions? For information about or alterations to the receiving of this publication, please send an email to ledenadministratie@ royalfloraholland.com

For more information on all events: check out www.royalfloraholland.com

Printing process The printing process of this publication is met by strict demands concerning environment and health. The magazine is printed on FSC certified paper. The foil used for packaging GROW consists of polyethylene and polypropylene.

Calendar & Publishing details



Growing together

The world is ever changing, that is why we have to continually renew ourselves.

We want to grow, and together we can grow faster. We should not only look inward, but outward as well. We must listen to our members and their customers, and to consumers. What do they want, how do we reach them? One thing is certain though. Everyone always wants more success, more happiness and more health.

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