The flower industry works like a simple value chain: growers grow flowers, suppliers obtain them, then the flowers are sold to retailers or to wholesalers before consumers buy them in bunches or bouquets. It sounds really simple, except the people involved come from all over the world. Most of the produce in the flower industry are grown in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia, with Netherlands as the biggest trade center and Germany as the primary market for imports.
Exported cut flowers from the Netherlands to Germany are the primary component of the international flower industry and as well as a significant part of the European trade, which by itself accounts for a big part of the world trade. In the American continents, Colombia is the United States’ major supplier. Japan gets its cut flower supply from a more diverse base, with New Zealand, Europe, The Philippines, and Taiwan being the most important ones.
The Netherlands has been the hub of the international flower trade since the 1950’s. The secret of their prominent position in the industry is an efficient trade system that facilitates the shipment of flowers around the world. Flowers are imported from growers in South America, Australia, Africa, and Asia and assembled in the Aalsmeer flower auction, the largest marketplace for buying and selling floricultural produce. This allows the flower industry to overcome the problem of wholesalers being unable to import directly from flower-growing countries.
On the supplier side, the flower industry is dominated by a few major players who are also a cluster of interrelated companies with their own specialization and export markets. The Dutch Flower Group is the world’s largest flower supplier with companies located in Western Europe and Africa. The other major supplier in the European market is the Zurel Group, with a turnover of more than $150 million. Both the Dutch Flower Group and the Zurel Group have three divisions that deal with wholesale, imports, and retail.
The advantages these major groups are pretty clear, because their sub-companies perform the process of production and distribution all throughout the year. They also give discounts on flower purchases through marketing strategies like flower deals, flower coupons, and other customer-centered offers, which save money for the customer and allow him to buy bigger volumes of flowers.
Besides flowers, the flower companies also exports accessories like foliage (fillers for the bouquet), flower foam, corsage supplies, artificial foliage, vases, and ribbons. Other major accessories that are purchased are packaging equipment for the transfer of fresh, perishable flowers. These include flower mats, flower foils, and ice packs. One of the biggest suppliers of flower accessories in Europe is a member of the Dutch Flower Group called Cold and Fresh International.