Levi: Lily grower out in rose country: Wunderbar!
Lily grower on the road in rose country: Wunderbar!
Last week I stepped into a German flower store, not something I do every day. I was in Germany for a few days in connection with a trade show and visited some customers. Always good to exchange knowledge and experience. When I saw our lilies in that German store, from the greenhouses in Moerkapelle, I was touched. Especially because I experienced myself what is involved. How much effort it takes to get our flowers to that place.
Along with a line driver
I saw that, for example, in a German wholesaler in Chemnitz. Every morning before dawn florists come here to buy their flowers. And it struck me all the more when later that morning I rode along with a line driver, in a sort of SRV wagon full of flowers and plants. Man, what a lot of hard work: from five in the morning to five at night, those are long days. Respect! On the way we stopped at about twenty florists, who bought their flowers in the wagon. We had to get used to the fact that at our nursery we only sell large volumes, and here we sold one or two bunches per stop.
Understanding the market better
Why I went out with the customer? Not to bypass a link as a flower producer. Certainly not. But to better understand how the market works. I want to know how our products are selling. What colors are doing well. How our flowers look. How the customer sees the future and what developments stand out in the market. All valuable knowledge that helps us in our work.
A few eye openers
I can say that I have gained a particularly educational experience. The trip with the line driver was a real eye opener. So good to experience what happens to our flowers once they leave the nursery. With us, the lilies look sleek and beautiful: large quantities in colorful neat rows. Always a beautiful sight. Once in the SRV wagon, it took a while to swallow. The covers around our bunches did not look neat. Also, the lilies were tucked away in a corner. At one point I straightened the covers and put the flowers in a more prominent place. At the next stop, they were immediately sold. So you see for yourself how decisive presentation and place is for sales.
Selling flowers is people work
What struck me most of all? That relationships down to the last person in the chain are important. For example, the line truck salesman has been working in the area for 20 years. He knows what's going on and responds accordingly. To me, that proves once again that selling flowers is the work of people. It would be nice if our new products reach wholesalers and line drivers faster. A truck driver like that immediately shares the news with his customers; that promotes sales and immediately creates a connection.
Germany rose country, lily on the rise
Furthermore, I had time to visit wholesale markets in Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin. To see on the spot how traders sell our lilies and how they look. I got out of bed early for this too, and it was well worth it: I was astonished. Especially in Berlin. What fanatical sellers and how many flowers they sell there! The funny thing is that Germans prefer roses. Lilies dangle somewhere at the bottom of the queue. Only we notice that the German market is growing. Now sixty percent of florists in Germany turn out to be Vietnamese. And in Asia, the lily is number one. So there is a future in that. Wonderful to see that with your own eyes.
Preference and taste
What I learned from it? That ultimately everything has to do with people's preferences and tastes. Those determine which flower prevails, both in the wholesaler, in the line driver's truck, and in the florist's store.
Despite a three thousand kilometer hike, a tour like this gives a lot of energy: it broadens your horizons. By experiencing what it's like, walking along and getting a taste of the profession, I have a better understanding of what customers are up against. How florists struggle to stay afloat after the price increases. I share my concerns and findings with everyone, both at home and with customers. Of course, I'm just one link in a huge chain. But I see it as an excavator. Each time you dig a layer deeper to get to the bottom of the market. Layer by layer you get further.
PS: Would you like me to visit your clients with you? Please contact me and we'll set a date.
Levi Evers after graduating from Horti Technics & Management, is co-owner of Bredefleur.