The crash of the $8.5 billion global trade in cut flowers shows how quickly and distinctively the new coronavirus pandemic is disrupting supply chains, even in places where it isn’t yet pervasive. After only a few weeks of quarantine,
The flower trade is a masterpice of modern capitalism. A chain of cold storage starts with stems being picked in places as far away as Africa, the Middle East, and South America, then packed into refrigerated trucks, driven to refrigerated planes, and flown to Amsterdam to be auctioned off.
They’re then repacked into more cold trucks and planes and delivered to supermarkets, florists, and bridal bouquets across Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
The auctions are run by a cooperative, Royal FloraHolland, formed a century ago by a group of growers who met in a pub and devised a system to better control how their flowers were sold.
Royal FloraHolland now runs four auction sites that handle the considerable volume of the global trade. Its facility in Aalsmeer, a concrete warehouse, is one of the biggest buildings in Europe. Each day before sunrise, workers fill it with truckloads of chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips. Buyers assemble in rooms filled with computer screens, where photos of each lot are displayed. Usually over 20 million flowers and plants are sold at Royal FloraHolland every day.
Royal FloraHolland decided to proceed with the auction ahead of the King’s Day, the date of celebrating the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, however the events have been cancelled and the Royal subjects have received a recommendation to stay safe at home.
The figures about Royal FloraHolland are impressive beyond imaginable: 90% of Dutch flower trade takes place at Royal FloraHolland. The auction houses have around 5000 members, 9000 suppliers, 3500 customers and 4500 employees.
Dutch floricultural business creates 250.000 full time jobs for people worldwide, directly as well as indirectly.
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