Royal Base Corporation from Chinese Taipei scooped Gold in the Cut Flowers & Bulbs category of AIPH’s 2023 International Grower of the Year Awards. FloraCulture International caught up with the company’s sales manager Robert Wang to understand the sentiments in the global orchid industry and share his emotions towards winning AIPH’s prestigious award.
The Royal Base Cooperation is among the world’s leading growers specialising in Phalaenopsis variety breeding, young plants from tissue culture, and the production of half-finished and saleable Phalaenopsis pot plants. It was established in 2003.
The corporation operates from its headquarters in Chinese Taipei and its breeding centre and tissue culture laboratory in its Changhua site, around 175km southwest of the capital.
Their Apollo farm in Dalat, Vietnam, is Royal Base Corporation’s flagship nursery for the production of freshly cut Phalaenopsis and Phalaenopsis young plant production.
The company has invested in state-of-the-art glass greenhouses and an advanced environmental control system to maintain high-quality products and a steady year-round production of 1.8 million stems of cut Phalaenopsis per year in Vietnam.
Robert Wang: “I am thrilled to share that Royal Base Corporation, the horticultural grower where I have proudly worked for the past five years, has reached a major milestone in its 20-year journey. Despite the daily challenges we face, we have tried our best to solve them, and I could not be more excited to celebrate this achievement.
Furthermore, our hard work and dedication to the industry have paid off in the form of the AIPH International Grower of the Year award. Winning this prestigious award is a testament to our team’s commitment to excellence and proves our efforts have been noticed. I am truly honoured to be a part of this incredible journey and excited for what the future holds for Royal Base Corporation.”
“Our company has always been interested in participating in various competitions, and thanks to some industrial pioneers who recommended us, we immediately decided to take on the challenge. We are thrilled with the results and couldn’t be happier.
Royal Base Corporation highly recommends other horticultural players to join the competition. It not only makes the competition more interesting but also provides more opportunities to showcase the beauty of horticulture to the world. Our recommendation to all newcomers is to take part in this competition, and we’re excited to see what new talent and innovation will come to the fore.”
“Through its Apollo farm, Royal Base Corporation is present in Vietnam, blessed with a benign climate and hardworking people. At Apollo, we use Taiwan’s cutting-edge cultivation technology to provide our customers with the best quality Phalaenopsis flowers.
Due to the rising tensions with China, we strongly focused on building an independent supply chain in Vietnam to prevent any potential disruptions. Vietnam has also signed numerous trade agreements with lower tariffs, giving us a competitive edge in marketing.
We’re combining the strengths of Taiwan and Vietnam to provide exceptional customer service. Vietnam’s diverse trading groups, such as ASEAN, present even more opportunities to expand our market.”
“As cut Phalaenopsis specialist, Royal Base Corporation’s Apollo farm in Vietnam produces around 1.8 million stems per year. Our largest market is Japan, accounting for 55 per cent of our total sales. We also sell to Australia, Europe, the US, Southeast Asia, and locally in Vietnam. The predominant cut flower market is for premium quality white flowers, a basic colour and ideal for dyeing. But we also offer purple and pink coloured flowers to keep pace with changing consumer preferences. Additionally, there’s a growing demand for Phalaenopsis cut flowers with bigger lips.”
“I believe that our values and hi-tech quality products are the major factors that are driving growth. Our motto is “Science creates Happiness,” highlighting the importance of our scientific approach to orchid growing. All this is to achieve a stable output and consistency in product quality, grading, packaging, and shipping.
Our plants thrive in Dalat’s conducive climate, absorbing tremendous energy that translates into giant flowers, petals that are a textural treat, and, most importantly, an extended vase life. Our internal testing shows that our flowers can last for around 30 days after a dark period. Additionally, our delicate packaging is a significant advantage, providing an elegant touch to our already high-quality products.”
“Royal Base’s success is the result of the joint efforts of our business and production teams. Our business team works tirelessly to promote our flowers to flower lovers worldwide. However, the florists and importers truly give us a big hand in spreading the word about our product. We are proud to have collaborated with renowned florists such as Preston Bailey, Nicolai Bergmann, Nixon Tran, Guy Satchukorn, Khoi Ha, and many others. Thanks to them, our flowers have been used to create breathtaking decorations that showcase the beauty of our product.
Meanwhile, our production team in Vietnam and Taiwan puts in tremendous effort to cultivate the best quality Phalaenopsis flowers. We combine the strengths of both regions to produce unrivalled flowers in size, petal shape, and vase life.”
“Royal Base’s Apollo farm in Dalat harvests daily. The sales team will allocate the flowers based on the stock available to fulfil orders. On the shipping day, our team will finish packing before 5pm, and the truck will transport our cargo to the airport, which takes around 6-8 hours to arrive at Ho Chi Minh airport. This process helps prevent any possible damage from strong sunlight. The next day, all the flowers are ready to be flown to their destinations.
Depending on the customer’s demand, we typically pack ten or six stems in one box, and ten boxes become one bundle. Depending on the destination, if the temperature is too cold, we will cover the bundle with a bubble layer to prevent cold shock.
We have constantly been improving our packaging to ensure that our flowers arrive in the best possible condition. We have a team responsible for packaging design, and we have invested in modern equipment to ensure that our flowers are well-protected during transportation. Our packaging design protects the flowers and adds an extra layer of beauty to the overall presentation. Our logistics team works closely with our production team to ensure we can fulfil orders on time while maintaining the quality of our products.”
“We typically use pre-treatment and post-harvest processes. After cutting the flowers, we keep them at 17 degrees Celsius for one day. Then, we dip them in flower nutrition before storing them in a 12 degrees Celsius storage room. I believe the secret to our high-quality flowers lies in our cultivation process. Additionally, we implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system to prevent pest infestations; as a result, we rarely encounter quarantine issues.”
“It is designed to create a microclimate that is optimal for the growth and development of our Phalaenopsis orchids. The greenhouse is equipped with advanced technology, such as automated temperature and humidity control systems, shading, and ventilation systems that can be adjusted based on the specific needs of each orchid. To maintain optimal growing conditions, we closely monitor the environmental factors in the greenhouse, such as temperature, humidity, and light. Our greenhouse also provides a comfortable working environment for our employees.”
“Judging from my many years of experience in this sector, I have seen significant changes in the global market. Initially, the trade primarily focused on local and regional markets. However, recent advances in transportation and logistics have made it easier to transport plants across long distances, opening new markets for growers and producers. Furthermore, the rise of e-commerce and online marketplaces has made it easier for consumers to purchase plants from around the world, further fuelling global trade growth.
At the same time, there is a growing awareness of the importance of sustainability and responsible sourcing in the ornamental horticulture trade. Consumers and industry players alike are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of plant production and transportation and the working conditions of those involved in the trade.
Overall, these changes have brought about many positive developments in the global ornamental horticulture trade. By embracing sustainability and responsible sourcing practices, we can ensure that the trade continues to grow in a way that is both economically viable and environmentally and socially responsible.”
“We don’t consider sustainability as pressure; it is our responsibility towards the world. Royal Base Co. has recently realised the challenges of rising energy prices due to the ongoing conflicts. As a result, we strive to implement sustainable practices in our business operations.
Being located in Vietnam’s highlands, we benefit from relatively stable sunlight and temperature, which reduces the need for manual control in the greenhouse.
In the future, we believe the ornamental business will become more closely linked to the regional economy. This means that people will prefer products with shorter transportation distances.
Moreover, our company’s primary goal is to reduce packaging waste and to recycle energy to minimise our environmental impact.”
“Regarding certifications, we undergo an annual audit by MPS-ECAS to ensure that we are continuously progressing towards sustainability.
As for our current tools and practices, we meticulously control our costs for all materials used, including petroleum, water, and fertilisers. Our team conducts daily checks using PRIVA data to ensure that we maintain an optimal greenhouse environment while keeping track of our energy consumption.
Regarding future tools and initiatives, we are exploring installing solar panels and partnering with companies like BLUE RADIX, which specialises in AI solutions for greenhouse operations. These measures will increase our efficiency and automation and reinforce our commitment to sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship.”
“Improving our sustainability practices will certainly bring positive financial results for our company in the long run. Initially, we may need to make larger investments, such as installing solar panels, but over time, these facilities will allow us to store electric energy more efficiently. This can lead to cost savings and a more stable energy supply in the future. In addition, as consumers become more eco-conscious, our commitment to sustainability can also help to build customer loyalty and strengthen our brand image, leading to increased sales and revenue in the long term.”
“The challenges facing the ornamental horticulture industry include the instability of the global situation. In the event of a war, all energy must be directed towards the agricultural consumption industry to prevent food shortages.
However, there are also opportunities arising from anxiety over the state of the world, as people have an increased demand for ornamental products. The presence of flowers and plants can create a sense of happiness that is difficult to quantify with numbers.
As an established agricultural and horticultural country, Taiwan is committed to improving its cultivation technology and providing high-quality and sustainable cut flowers to the world for decades to come. Despite being a small island, Taiwan is open-minded and willing to collaborate with other countries to leverage their advantages.”
About Robert Wang
Robert Wang completed his Master’s in plant pathology at National Taiwan University. After graduating, he joined the diplomatic, military service in Belize for a year, where the project focused on handling HLB citrus disease.
After military service, Wang discovered his interest in travelling the world for overseas sales while incorporating his academic background. He found the ornamental industry quite fascinating, so he joined Royal Base Co. over five years ago. He is pleased to have grown with the company and has witnessed its continuous improvement every day.
Asked about his most satisfying moment in the organisation’s history – aside from winning an award at IGOTY23, he says, “Royal Base Co. has had many shining moments throughout its history. For example, the company participated in HortiFair 2008, 2009, and 2010 and achieved impressive results. In 2016, the company also won the overall champion award at the Taiwan International Orchid Show (TIOS). However, the most satisfying moment for the company is when customers provide feedback on their positive flower experiences, which brings great joy to the head office.”
This article was first published in the May 2023 FloraCulture International.