How do European buyers of cut flowers and foliage think?
The cut flower industry has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, with African countries gaining prominence as suppliers and the Netherlands expanding its role as gateway to Europe and the rest of the world. Due to market saturation and economic pressure in Europe, the sector is now facing a pressing need for reform. Major changes are underway, as mass market retailers have moved forward to take at least one third of the market in just a few years, setting new efficiency and CSR standards. As buyers tighten their grip on key EU markets while jostling for new markets and opportunities, they are also gearing up for a major supply chain upgrade that will, of necessity, involve every player in the chain from farm to final sales outlet. The changes most needed are: a more market-oriented approach, greater supply chain efficiency (logistics, freight, communications) and improved cold chain management. They key qualities buyers will be looking for in suppliers – both in the traditional and in the retail channel – are reliability, predictability and consistency. To DC exporters, all of this means there are exciting opportunities ahead, particularly for those equipped and willing to take a leading role in the coming change.