Get trade to improve bonds between breeders and buyers

“We will have to strengthen the bonds between breeders and buyers by means of the trade. That might possibly lead to exclusive relationships that do not need the flower auction’s intervention.” This was one of the conclusions made during the Blooming Breeders meeting that took place in the Netherlands last week. Blooming Breeders is a Dutch foundation that looks after the interests of breeders in ornamental plant cultivation and that includes breeders as well as traders.
The key question during this meeting was: Is plant breeding possible without the flower auction? Three speakers – John Celie, wholesaler at Celieplant, Martin Hogenboom, nurseryman and trader at Vireõ Plant and Joaquin de la Torre, marketer at Ball SB – all presented their view on the market as well as their methods for getting the maximum added value out of this.
Largest degree of transparency
John Celie described the position of traders as being wedged in between major buyers of retail chains and breeders/growers. “We are in favour of the largest possible degree of transparency because this is how we would like to create a bond between buyers and breeders. Retailers have to understand what breeders actually can supply and where the true value of certain products lies. On the other hand, breeders do need to understand that retailers wish to move along with the whims of the consumer market. I would like breeders to give me the tools, meaning special product qualities, that will allow me to abandon this continuous discussion about cost prices.”
More exclusivity
Martin Hogenboom of Vireõ Plant also doesn’t care about the way prices come about in the market. “I also try to build steady relationships between breeders, growers and traders. My father taught me that a healthy balance between these will keep the market stable. Fact is however, that in times of scarcity, all traders ask for preferential treatment, whilst at the same time, we do allow for the product life cycle to be cut short far too soon. My ultimate goal is to trade more directly between growers and buyers on the basis of exclusivity. To that purpose, I wish to invest in higher license fees.”
Breaking out of the spiral
The last speaker, Joaquin de la Torre who works for Ball, presented the approach as used by his company, and which consists of building connections between research & development and the market. Ball discovered that about fifty buyers of large retailers are active in the USA. According to De La Torre, they are conservative and focus on the ‘big’ blooms. In his view, growers are just as conservative because they only produce what is in demand. “That does lead to the following paradox: I do not grow because nobody buys. I do not buy because nobody grows. Ball is actively trying to break out of this spiral. We do know that consumers are indeed interested in special flowers and are certainly ready and willing to be surprised. We also know that price is less important to them than you might think. Our solution is to provide wholesalers with presentations of the special products in our assortment year round. We also aim to provide them with the broadest possible information on breeders’ possibilities regarding the development and production of these products. We are happy to see that the chain is becoming shorter. The fewer steps there are between breeder/grower and buyer, the better.”