The Flower Council of Holland’s future is hanging in the balance

Funding for Flower Council of Holland activities must be organised differently from 1 January 2024. Royal FloraHolland (RFH) has announced that it will stop collecting payment from supplying growers and buying traders as of that date. From then on, the Flower Council of Holland wants to organise its funding via a General Binding Declaration (GBD) financed by all companies. The sector must decide whether or not it intends to continue generic consumer promotion, research and sector-related communication. Professionals from the industry can vote on this in the weeks ahead.

A GBD is the only way to maintain collectivity. Before being introduced, growers and traders will be asked for their opinion on the GBD. This can be done via an online vote between 27 March and 7 April 2023.

“In fact, it is about retaining the collective strength and knowledge accumulated in over 40 years of consumer promotion,” says Yvonne Watzdorf (Managing Director of the Flower Council of Holland). “We collect knowledge about consumers, as well as their preferences and behaviour, and translate this knowledge into creative campaigns and activities that stimulate demand for flowers and plants. And we do this in the most important European markets and high-potential countries. The ultimate goal is to encourage consumers to buy more flowers and plants more often. This is the essence of the work we do for the sector. We share our consumer knowledge and campaign materials with sector professionals, so that everyone can benefit.”

A new development is that the Flower Council of Holland is now devoting more time and effort to sector-related communication to better inform the general public about the craftsmanship and innovative strength found within these horticultural companies. “We can help to create a positive image of the sector by communicating about initiatives, results and ambitions for a sustainable sector. Do we want to invest in consumer communication, knowledge and collaboration collectively? That is the question at hand. “It’s now or never,” concludes Watzdorf.

From 1 January 2024, Royal FloraHolland will stop collecting payment for the collective promotion of flowers and plants. The main objection of this auction organisation is that an uneven playing field has developed because ‘free riders’ are benefiting from the added value of collective activities without paying for it. The basic principle behind the GBD is that everyone contributes, including companies that do not supply or buy their cut flowers or house plants from RFH auctions.

The introduction of the GBD will therefore have financial consequences for companies that currently trade outside the auction, either in full or in part. To ensure that the financial transition will not be too dramatic, the decision has been made to give all growers and trading companies a refund of 15 per cent of the total contribution to the Flower Council of Holland. This includes companies that currently trade and contribute entirely via RFH.

In principle, the GBD will last four years (2024-2027). An external administration office will be responsible for collecting payment and monitoring payment compliance.

The GBD has proven itself as an effective system for organising collective financing. In January, this payment approach took effect for the Research and Innovation Knowledge in your Greenhouse (KIJK) programme. As a result, over the next three years, all greenhouse growers in the food and ornamental horticulture sectors will contribute to intercrop research for various innovation programmes.

To measure the level of support for a GBD, the Flower Council of Holland invites growers and traders to vote on the introduction of a GBD from 27 March to 7 April 2023. Owners, directors and major shareholders with voting rights can vote via an online mailing from the independent research firm Motivation. Once the results have been evaluated, the horticultural sector organisation will apply a GBD to the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The ministry will first submit the application to the European Commission for approval, after which the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality will make a final decision.

Because the world and sector are rapidly changing, the independent Flower Council of Holland believes its role must evolve. “By continuing what’s effective and changing what isn’t,” explains Yvonne Watzdorf. “We will continue to develop activation campaigns and inspire consumers in the main European markets via offline and online media. We will focus even more on collecting knowledge about consumers, their preferences, and behaviour. And we will gladly share the resulting insights with growers and traders, so that they can consider them when making decisions. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with others in the sector to better communicate to consumers what horticulture is all about. This will benefit all sector professionals and help to realise a stronger horticultural sector.”

Meanwhile, the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products (VGB) accuses Royal FloraHolland of irresponsible behaviour by putting at risk the very existence of the Flower Council of Holland and its generic floral promotion activities.

Its official statement reads, “The AVV for sector promotion will cause chaos and confusion and is proof of an unrealistic funding mechanism for trading companies and growers. Royal FloraHolland’s unilateral decision in 2021 to stop collecting assessments for promotion activities on 1 January 2024, will turn the generic promotion dream into a nightmare for the entire Dutch ornamental horticulture sector.”

VGB underlines that a majority of its members are in favour of generic promotion and are willing to contribute to it, which is under the current financial criteria and funding mechanism. The association urges Royal FloraHolland ‘to engage in introspection’, not to blow up the Flower Council of Holland, and to use all its energy to safeguard the sector’s blooming future.


In this Dutch video, sector colleagues talk about the importance of collectivity for a robust horticultural sector.

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