Business tough for Dutch growers too

Latest data shows how Dutch growers are struggling to make money in tough market conditions.

Dutch growers are in the same boat as their struggling British counterparts despite having a more automated, supported industry and a back-up auction system, say industry figures.

A Dutch grower, who imports into the UK but did not want to be named, said Dutch growers were finding it hard to make money, adding: "In 2011, half made a loss, while in 2012, three-quarters did, despite being generally more mechanised and efficient than in the UK."

This year has been better, but he expects bigger growers to snap up smaller ones.

He said growers in Holland were better at developing new concepts and crop types, which created niche markets.

Dutch potted plant exports were slightly up in the first half of 2013, but were slightly down in 2012 (see box).

Dutch importer Javado has been gaining 20 to 30 per cent a year but in March dropped for the first time - by 30 to 40 per cent. This has since recovered because 90 per cent of orders are daily business, with retailers reacting to demand. Forward orders make up only 10 per cent of plants.

Partner Chris Campbell said: "Dutch wastage was the same as in Britain, but Dutch growers had the Flora- Holland auction as a back-up to get a little bit back."

British growers were forced to skip stock or sell it in car boot or "back door" sales.

But Campbell said he doesn't see auctions ever coming to the UK because "the investment would be too great" (see Analysis, p22). He added that Dutch auctions were being hit by rising levies.

Chairman of Dutch trade body Anthos Henk Westerhof said: "Lots of growers had prices going down and a lot of retailers weren't interested. That led to the situation where people had to throw away their product or offer them at low prices - you can't produce products for prices like that." (See p8).

BPOA chairman Ian Riggs said: "UK growers are grateful for the end of season flourish. People feel good because of the next couple of months but when they look at the figures they might feel not so good."

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