After the tumultuous year 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Fleuroselect cancelled its 50th-anniversary convention in the Netherlands. Now, in 2021, it is full steam ahead. The Fleuroselect brand, and its products, are increasingly marketing themselves via online services. In June, Fleuroselect flexed their creative muscles, offering a Studio FlowerTrials live stream event substituting for this year’s cancelled FlowerTrials.
This article was written by Ann Jennen, and it appeared in the FloraCulture International, July-August 2021
The coronavirus pandemic was a major setback for the 50th anniversary of Fleuroselect, the international organisation of breeders and young plant producers. The three-day gathering in July 2020 for the top management of the global breeding world organised in Amsterdam to celebrate the anniversary had to be cancelled.
This celebratory programme, including visits to top-notch locations in horticulture and a Gold Medal and FleuroStar plant display with all winners still commercially available from the past 50 years, had to be put aside. Still, the international breeders’ organisation has bounced back quickly.
“Not being able to celebrate our 50th anniversary has been a significant disappointment for the organisation. After a long preparation, we had to cancel the event twice, the first time in 2020 and the second time this summer. Even though Corona shook us up, we did not give up. Our Board and Secretariat is flexible and managed to shift around quickly. We focused on what could be done with the limited possibilities during lockdown,” says Karol Pawlak, Fleuroselect President.
One of the main challenges the organisation faced right from the beginning was the cancellation of FlowerTrials, for which Fleuroselect has run the secretariat since 2015. Together with the FlowerTrials Foundation’s Board and all participating breeders, it was decided to cancel the event at rather a late stage in the preparations in 2020. This decision, however, has led to a change of strategy for this trade event which its set-up can explain.
Starting with only five companies, FlowerTrials has grown to an event with over 60 participants, united for the last 12 years under a foundation managed by a small Board of Directors following a manifesto which, although agreed to by all the participating companies, is not legally binding. The financial uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 crisis led to the subsequent concern of the Board members relating to their responsibility under the existing structure. It was therefore agreed at the FlowerTrials Annual Meeting in September 2020 that the event would be better organised under a membership structure. With Fleuroselect already having shown interest in strengthening the relationship, consolidation of the FlowerTrials event within Fleuroselect was seen as the ideal way to move forward.
Karol Pawlak: “Over the years, FlowerTrials has evolved from a small-scale promotion initiative to one of the major trade events in worldwide ornamentals. The original foundation set-up did not match the daily needs anymore and the pandemic highlighted that even more. “The adoption of the new Articles of Association including the FlowerTrials integration at the Fleuroselect Extraordinary General Meeting in April of this year has been the final step in the process of amalgamation. We are delighted that the companies under the FlowerTrials umbrella have put their trust in the organisation to maintain and nurture this primary event in the pot and bedding plant calendar.”
Not only a considerably amount of work has been done behind the scenes, but also the Fleuroselect frontstage has changed considerably. The entire promotion strategy has taken a significant shift towards digital, and many online initiatives have emerged.
The organisation set up digital trial walks where Secretary-General Sally van der Horst showed the plants in front of the camera and Marketing & Communications Manager Ann Jennen managed the backstage and streaming platform. Last summer, they were accompanied by the Chairman of the Entries and Evaluations Committee Ruud Brinkkemper at the field trial at PanAmerican Seed in Venhuizen (NL). A few weeks ago, a Livestream was broadcast from the Syngenta greenhouses in Andijk (NL), with Judge Gerard Werink sharing his expertise. Additional Livestreams on trial fields across Europe are planned for this summer.
Ann Jennen: “When confronted with all the trade fairs and events that could not take place anymore, we decided to focus on our core business and adapt that to the new reality. For Fleuroselect, that means trialing and promoting new varieties. Showing the latest plant innovations via livestreams directly from greenhouses and trial fields brings real added value to our members and the industry.”
In June, following the cancellation of FlowerTrials for the second year ‘Studio FlowerTrials’ saw the light as a digital alternative for the physical FlowerTrials displays in week 24, bringing the latest breeding in pot and bedding plants to growers, wholesalers, retailers and all interested parties within the worldwide ornamental industry. Dutch TV presenter Marit van Bohemen was contracted to host the show and in addition to the FlowerTrials members, she was also joined by several guests for discussions on current trends and industry topics.
Flagship award FleuroStar from Fleuroselect also continued during the pandemic. Digital editions took place in both 2020 and 2021 for which most plant promotion was done online. During both editions, physical plant line-ups were foreseen for the jury panel of over 30 experts who came by either in person or took part in one of the dedicated Zoom sessions. This year’s winner was revealed during the Fleuroselect Winners Event on 29 June and could be viewed directly via a dedicated Livestream.
Sally van der Horst: “As we have been unable to present the medals to our Gold Medal winners for the second year in a row, we thought we might combine all our awards into one Fleuroselect Winner Event. Wel kicked off by handing over the honours to the 2021 and 2022 Gold Medal winners and then we proceeded to the announcement of the new FleuroStar winner.”