The Netherlands is the heart of the international floriculture sector

The horticulture sector in the Netherlands is concentrated in so-called greenports. Greenports Holland is a network, representing the Dutch cluster of businesses related to horticulture, including arboriculture and floriculture.

The added value and employment of the whole agricultural sector in the greenports in the Netherlands is with 130,000 employees and 5.2 billion Euros roughly comparable to the mainport Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which is the largest port in Europe. For the agrologistics sector, road transport is the main transport mode. More than a quarter of all national road transport volume in the Netherlands in 2006 (28%) is related to agrologistics, while for the EU this is 19% in national transport volume. In international Dutch and EU transport the share of agrologistics is 25% or more.

Figure: The floriculture network (Source: Van der Vorst et al., 2012)

The Netherlands is the heart of the international floriculture sector. It has an intricate and high-quality network of companies, ranging from breeders and growers to sales experts and export firms, representing every aspect of the business. The supply chain network consists of the following links: growers, auctions, traders, logistics service providers and outlets (see figure).

  • FloraHolland flower auction has six auction centers for trading in cut flowers (about 70% of turnover) and ornamental plants (about 30%), a national intermediary organization (FloraHolland Connect) and an internationally active import department. Veiling Rhein-Maas (Herongen, Germany) is a joint venture between FloraHolland and Landgard. FloraHolland is a primary cooperative: the business is owned by its roughly 6,000 members, especially growers in the Netherlands, but also beyond.
  • The traders can be split up in three groups: wholesalers, exporters and importers. Sometimes this overlaps, when a Dutch wholesaler also acts as exporter. There are about 1200 Dutch traders, dealing with many (inter)national customers. Most important import countries are Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel, Ecuador and Germany. Most important export countries are Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium.
  • In many cases the transport between two chain stages is outsourced to a logistics service provider. In some cases the providers execute extra activities like quality control, handling and packaging.
  • Different sales channels can be identified in the national and international market places. We can devide them into retail (supermarket, garden and construction centre, etc.) and detail (self-employed garden center, flower shop, street market, etc.).

The supply chain network of ornamental plants and cut flowers is not the same. The most important difference between both chains is the fact that a flower after being cut can decrease 15% in value a day in case not delivered to the customer, whereas an ornamental plant is almost non-perishable. So especially in flower chains speed is essential. A second difference is that consumers normally buy several cut flowers as a bouquet whereas potted plants are sold piece by piece. In the world of the ornamental plants the role of the garden centers and lumber yards is much stronger than in cut flower chains. This leads to direct deals between retailers and growers with a much higher volume.

(Source: “ Innovative Logistics Concepts in the Floriculture Sector” by: Jack G.A.J. van der Vorst, Jacqueline M. Bloemhof, and Marlies de Keizer (2012)).

The future of the Floriculture for the Netherlands: impact of virtualisation

With the introduction of web-shops and virtual auctions, flowers can be traded without having them physically being sent to the Netherlands. How can the Netherlands maintain its world leadership in the floricultural industry? Which means are available to realise remote trade, logistics and coordination? Within the DaVinc3i project, growers, traders, logistics service providers and three Dutch universities are developing ideas about this.

The project started in 2011 and will take 4 years to complete. Read more on