Figures published by the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products (VGB) and market analyst Floridata reveal that January and February 2023 were months of resilience in the face of multiple challenges and contraction. In March, Dutch flower and plant exports rebounded unexpectedly to growth, in which the industry sees hopeful recovery after 10 consecutive months of decline.
Dutch flower and plant exporters saw fewer orders for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day and the UK’s Mothering Sunday, the big traditional peaks in the flower industry in the first three months of the year.
Total export revenues have dropped in the first quarter of 2023, with Dutch global flower and plant exports declining by 4 per cent to €1.9bn. Exports of flowers and plants to the Netherlands’ major export destinations, Germany, France and the UK, fell significantly in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.
The worst hit was the flower trade with the UK, normally the sector’s second-biggest overseas market. It was down 10.8 per cent. Sales to Germany (-4.3 per cent) and France (-9.4 per cent) also were sluggish. Meanwhile, there was a significant increase in floral shipments to Italy and Austria.
March marked the first month of growth in exports following ten months of consecutive contraction. Flower exports saw a 2.8 per cent growth to €461mn; plants reported a 1.6 per cent drop to €289mn.
However, the UK’s Mothering Sunday, which traditionally falls in March, was not a runaway success. Floridata did not explain whether the drop in export sales to the UK is an indication of the losses that Dutch floral exporters face in the longer term due to the new trade barriers with the UK, supply constraints, the country’s cost of living crisis or all three factors combined.
Regarding the Q1 total value of exports, plants saw a bigger fall than cut flowers. Flower exports contracted by 3.8 per cent to €1.2bn, and plant exports by 4 per cent to €710mn.
In a comment on the figures, Dutch Flower Group’s chief executive Jan van Dam said the industry’s performance in ‘a challenging Q1’ was better than expected. “Market forecasts for Q1 were bleak, with flower professionals predicting a 10 to 15 per cent drop in export sales and supply constraints. But the slump in export revenues was not as big as some experts had feared. Flower and plant exports suffered a drop in January and February 2023 compared to last year, which by all means, was a very good year. So, an overall 4 per cent drop is better than I expected. Looking ahead: April will be tough, and May will see a rebound in sales, while for June, the future is harder to predict. Overall, I expect strong consumer demand for flowers and plants for the weeks ahead, with hopefully balmy spring weather across Europe fuelling demand.”
Watch the FloraFlits video for more information on the performance of Dutch flower and plant exporters over the first quarter of 2023. FloraFlits is a production of VGB and Floridata.