OPF Mexico creates digital matchmaking for growers on B2B Conecta

MEXICO DF, Mexico: Mexico is the perfect location for growing flowers and plants, but internationally there is inexact data. Ornamental Plants & Flowers (OPF) is aiming to change that. President, Enrique Arias Velazco expounds, “In Mexico, daily life cannot be conceived without plants and flowers they are part of our language. We celebrate the milestones of life and death with flowers, as in the Day of the Dead, so as you can see, our relationship with flowers is strong.”

OPF is a committee integrated by the principal plants and flowers organisations of Mexico, including Mexican Flower Council, the State of Morelos Council of Ornamental Producers, Palacio de la Flor in Xochimilco, Floriculture Association of Villa Guerrero and the Cactus Union Producers of Querétaro.

The estimated value of national production of flowers/ornamental plants in Mexico is €1,664,000,000. Most of the producers are in the states of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos and Veracruz, and Mexico City. In total, nationwide, there are 23,088 hectares of ornamental crops cultivated; and 25,500 producers of cut flowers and foliage and container plants; the industry also generates 188 thousand permanent jobs, 50 thousand temporary ones and more than one million indirect ones (Source: OPF Mexico).

The USA is the largest consumer market for Mexican ornamental, horticultural and floricultural products.

Internationally, OPF Mexico has excellent relationships with German and Dutch embassies in Mexico and the International Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Mexico known as Holland House Mexico. It also has free trade agreements between the European Union and Mexico that facilitate and enhance the bilateral market.

Inaugural OPF trade show

In 2019, OPF Mexico began its first international ornamental floriculture trade show, after partnering with IPM Essen, to generate networking and trade opportunities for its members and producers nationally and internationally.

At AIPH’s 72nd Congress online meeting in September, all members approved granting International Horticultural Trade Exhibition D Category status to OPF Mexico 2021 from November 17 until 19, 2021 in Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City.

OPF Mexico 2021 focus will be on four speciality areas: Plants and Flowers, Technology and Innovation, Floristry and Decoration, Gardening and Landscaping. The show invites a special focus on an international country. In 2019, it was Germany, and for 2021 it will be the Netherlands.

Arias says, “We are going to have a special section for Dutch exhibitors, as well as making forums about the lastest novelties of Dutch ornamental floriculture sector. For this edition, the dahlia, which is the Mexican national flower, is going to be the central decoration theme of this event.”

New digital connections

It is not only the trade show which OPF Mexico uses to connect a local audience of producers to a global supply chain. For three years, they have been creating a digital platform known as e-B2B Connect.

IT manager, Gerardo Martin Cerda Ortiz, says its launch has come at such a critical time. “Before the coronavirus pandemic, Latin American horticultural producers would travel on business, they would never have thought about conducting business on a virtual platform. But this year, with the lockdowns preventing movement, many producers found a market on e-B2B Connect. It makes it easy to facilitate business encounters between clients and providers by locating customers through digitally displayed products. Once a customer shows interest in a specific product, they simply click on its Contact the Producer button, and the business process begins. The parties involved can now generate conversations through an internal chat, send emails, and schedule virtual meetings within the platform itself.”

There are two types of users: clients or purchasers. For a client, access is entirely free. They have access to a broad portfolio of suppliers listed by sector and positioned according to their certifications and services.

For providers or suppliers, they can have access to a broad portfolio of national and international clients according to the type of membership they choose, and their company needs NAT Membership (national market) or INT membership (national and international market).

User’s experience

The platform earns money by asking providers for an annual quotation fee that starts from $197 to $545, dependent on the number of products they want to exhibit and if they are National (non-exporters) or International (exporters) members. The platform is for wholesale trades, which means that they can recover the fee’s investment with just one successful business.

The platform currently shows product varieties from Mexico and Colombia, which was the first country outside of Mexico where e-B2B Connect expanded operations in November 2020.

Jairo Cadavid, president of The Association of Colombian Nurseries, points out that it is the best option available in the market to develop digital horticultural trade in Colombia. “In this way, suppliers and buyers can easily get in touch with new potential clients, and for this reason we have decided to offer to the “Green Industry” the possibility of holding business meetings, generating access to distribution channels, and prospecting for clients and suppliers in Colombia and in the world.”

The President of Colviveros also indicates that thanks to this digital platform the Trade Association has started connecting producers supply and potential demand, so each side of the trade process gets to know the innovations, capabilities, trends and news in the live plant and ornamental segment. “We brought together the nursery segment with suppliers of agro-inputs, new plant varieties and large buyers, with whom we seek to advance and develop negotiations that benefit the sector as a whole. Hand in hand with the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture, we have identified new channels with which it is possible to establish not only commercial contacts, but also generate anticipated sales.”

The e-B2B Connect platform and websites function in Spanish and English. However, there are plans in the future to translate into other languages.

As e-B2B Connect is OPF Mexico’s official digital platform, it means that all the exhibitors at OPF Mexico 2021 will be able to use it. There are plans to push the platform to other countries, with interest from Mexican and Colombian Dutch Chambers, best known as Holland House Mexico and Colombia.


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