Union Fleurs Newsletter

March 2014


This is a bimonthly, free publication for industry relations that provides a selection of industry news with focus on information and updates on Union Fleurs events, activities and membership.

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Union Fleurs represents and promotes the worldwide interests of traders in the floriculture sector. It offers membership to National trade associations and individual companies involved in the trade of cut flowers, foliage & cut greens and pot plants. Members benefit from many services, such as lobbying and advocacy, news & updates on regulatory developments, networking and exchange of information.

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Union Fleurs gears up for its 2014 General Assembly in Gran Canaria

At the end of this week, Union Fleurs will have the pleasure of welcoming its members and guests to its General Assembly 2014 from 3 to 6 April on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain. The event will see the election of a new Board of Directors and will focus on the strategic development of Union Fleurs towards 2016.

Click here to download the press release.

Union Fleurs steps up lobbying activities in support of the European Commission proposal on the new EU plant health import regime and against bids for the introduction of a ‘closed system’ approach

The EU is currently in the process of reforming its plant health regime, which has been in place in its current form since 1977. The European Commission has proposed in May 2013 a new EU Plant Health Regulation, as well as a new legislation on official controls, which will now also include all phytosanitary controls at the EU borders. The proposals have been submitted to the European Parliament and Council for co-decision procedure, which is currently ongoing.

Despite the Commission’s proposals to introduce new tools (increased surveillance, restrictions on new high-risk trade) to prevent the introduction of new pests via imports, there have been repeated calls by some EU Member States to introduce drastic changes in the EU approach to phytosanitary controls at import, which would take the form of a closed system with only a positive list of products and origins allowed at import on the basis of a prior pest risk assessment. Such a new approach, if introduced, would radically transform the EU phytosanitary regime, which is at the moment based on an open system, whereby only forbidden plant/market combinations are not authorised for import, and would have a damaging impact on the floricultural sector, in the EU but also in origin countries worldwide, since the sector operates within increasingly global and cross-border supply-chains.

Union Fleurs has joined forces in the past months with the Fresh Produce Association (FRESHFEL), the European Seed Association (ESA) and the European Potato Trade Association (Europatat) to denounce such plans and defend the Commission proposal.

Read more

Looking back at Valentine’s Day 2014

For the third consecutive year, Union Fleurs has called upon its members to help collect the articles published in the national and international press, on popular blogs and online news websites related to Valentine’s Day and the flower industry.

The Valentine’s Day period is widely put to use by journalists to point out the issues and challenges faced by the floriculture industry. It is therefore important for floriculture operators and organisations to be aware of what is being said, whether good or bad, as it brings a valuable insight of the general public’s global perception on the industry.

Union Fleurs was pleasantly surprised to observe this year a growing number of journalists & bloggers recognising the efforts made by the flower industry towards sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Read more

Successful week for Union Fleurs at IPM Essen 2014

Union Fleurs was again present this year at the 32nd International Plant Fair in Essen, benefiting from the practical setting of the BGI Trade Center, set up for the 15th consecutive year by the Association of the German Flower Wholesale and Import Trade and member of Union Fleurs to gather wholesalers and producers present at the fair in one central area entirely dedicated to production and trade.

With around 57,000 trade visitors from over 100 countries, this year’s IPM Essen was more than ever internationally-driven, giving Union Fleurs abundant opportunities to meet and liaise with its members and other industry players and gain further insight on the current market situation.

Although busy with its own booth, the Union Fleurs team made the best of the week by attending a number of meetings and events, among which The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative General Assembly 2014, the International Horticultural Forum, the BGI standparty and celebration of the long-lasting partnership between German and Dutch Union Fleurs members BGI and VGB (see article below), as well as the GlobalGAP Flowers and Ornamentals Stakeholders Committee to which Sylvie Mamias, Union Fleurs Secretary General, is an observer.


GERMANY - NETHERLANDS/ BGI - VGB announce partnership at IPM Essen

The VGB, the  Dutch association of wholesalers in flowers and plants, was this year’s key partner of BGI at the occasion of the IPM Essen international Trade Fair.

Following the Fair’s opening Ceremony, and as an introduction to the co-operation of the Netherlands and Germany, Herr Doktor Friedrich, the  German Minister of Agriculture paid a visit to the BGI Trade Center in Hall 1, together with the full delegation of IPM Essen officials . Jan Roelofs (President of BGI) and Herman de Boon (Chairman  of VGB) received the Minister as well as Ms. Anthea McIntyre , British member of the European Parliament for Agricultural Affairs. The delegation spent several minutes on the stand and was shown a short video presentation in which the benefits of the cooperation between BGI and VGB were emphasized.

Under the motto "Two countries - a passion", both organisations will team up on joint projects that will improve their networking and lobbying capacities to better meet consumer demands while adressing the sector’s current and future changes. The partnership will more specifically focus on the fields of sustainability and certification, as well as Vocational training, Product and category management, Logistics and Business Marketing. To mark the strenghtened relationship between the two national organisations, the traditional BGI Standparty on Thursday 30 January was sponsored by VGB and themed on Dutch Cuisine and Specialties.

THE NETHERLANDS/ VGB continues to support research for greener transport through GreenCHAINge

In a recent press release, the consortium partners involved in the GreenCHAINge Project, under the coordination of Union Fleurs member VGB (the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products), have announced that their latest pilot scheme, a sea transport of roses from Mombasa to the port of Antwerp, showed very satisfying results with an average vase life of ten days for these roses which is not at all inferior to the roses transported by air freight. “The results were fantastic”, said Robbert van Willegen of GreenCHAINge and the manager of this project. The sea transport of roses imported from distant locations or exported to distant destinations is not only less expensive but also much more environmentally friendly. It generates 87% less CO2 emissions than transport as air freight”. Further various practical tests will be conducted in the coming months by the GreenCHAINge consortium to investigate other aspects involving the differences between transport modes.

Click here to download the press release.

AUSTRIA/ WKÖ: visit of the Austrian president

The Valentine’s Tour of Austrian florists, landscapers and Vienna gardeners has been an established tradition for decades. This year again, the delegation visited between 28 January and 20 February no less than 50 Austrian personalities from political, economic and religious backgrounds. Taking the occasion of Valentine’s Day to greet these influential people with spring-like floral arrangements has been developed in the past few years as a way to both recognize their support and cooperation and to present the fine skills and craftsmanship of local florists and horticulture professionals. Union Fleurs Austrian member association, WKÖ, represented by Union Fleurs Honorary President Emil Steffek, took part in the tour and on this occasion visited the Federal President of Austria Mr. Heinz Fischer and the Prime Minister of the Austrian government Mr. Werner Faymann.

Click here to download the press release. (In German)

THE NETHERLANDS/ VGB observes stable trade conditions in Aalsmeer around Valentine’s Day despite FloraHolland strikes

The week before Valentine’s Day is well known by the Dutch flower traders as the annual peak for exports, accounting for 85% of total sales in the sector. This year, despite the announced strikes at the FloraHolland Auctions in Aalsmeer and some light but inevitable disturbances, the sector was globally satisfied with the logistics, prices and supply of products reported the Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products VGB.

Among the favourites this year, Red roses again came first, but Chrysanthemums, gerberas , freesias , lilies and red anthuriums recorded a high demand too. Because of the announced strikes at the Flower Auction, many traders and wholesalers took preventive measures by making direct arrangements with the growers. Supermarkets in particular had their sales made almost entirely outside the auction for immediate delivery.

Click here to download the press release. (In Dutch)

GERMANY/ BGI members record positive sales for Valentine’s Day 2014

According to the BGI (German Flower Trade and Wholesale Association) annual post-Valentine’s Day survey distributed to its members, the German sector was generally satisfied with this year’s results on sales. The interviewed wholesalers noticed that this year’s mainly mild and dry weather has had a positive impact on the buying mood in general and the desire for flowers in particular. In addition, it was observed that Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday resulted in better sales as it is usually perceived as a good day to purchase flowers.

Looking at this year’s prices increase, it was again significant although it remain tightly dependent on each company’s business policy. Sales increased most significantly in the West, Center and South of Germany, while the Northern regions and former Eastern Germany did not reach such spectacular increases. Encouraging growths were nevertheless recorded. On the media side, the sector noted a relatively restrained negative coverage, focusing mostly on pesticides without notably affecting the consumers.

Click here to download the press release. (In German)

FRANCE/ Val’Hor presents a study overview on the benefits of green areas in cities

On the occasion of the 29th edition of Salon du Vegetal in Angers, France, Dominique Douard, President of Union Fleurs French member Val’hor and Jean-Claude Antonini, President of Plante & Cité presented a summary of Les bienfaits du vegetal en ville, a scientific research investigating the benefits of plants in the city. To them, “Plants in the city objectively favour the residents’ health and wellbeing. Today they represent a primary element for the quality of life and the attractiveness of urban areas.” The aim of this research is to bring a clear perception of the plants’ effects on people living in cities in order to support the creation and management of green spaces. 10 benefits have been specifically identified by the study, with a clear effect on human-beings’ natural balance and on the economy.
The study summary and full bibliographic references are available on the Val’Hor website.

Click here to download the press release. (In French)


FSI holds a successful General Assembly at IPM Essen / IDH releases call for project proposals

One year after its official launch, the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative, of which Union Fleurs is an active member, organised its 2014 General Assembly on Thursday 30 January at IPM Essen, Germany. It was attended by almost 50 industry players from Production, Retail, Trade, as well as Standards and Civil Society Organisations from the FSI membership and key partners. As such, the assembly gathered a unique group of front-runners covering the whole supply chain among which Union Fleurs, whose Board member Richard Fox sits on the FSI board on behalf of Union Fleurs. After a short opening by the FSI Chairman Tony Bruggink, FSI Executive Officer Jeroen Oudheusden looked back at the 2013 results and way forward 2014 with the Equivalency Tool and the start of co-funded projects in partnership with IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative. The meeting ended with an interesting networking session.

Click here to download the press release.

The event was also the occasion for the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) to officially invite FSI members to submit project proposals that aim to address key sustainability issues in the flowers & plants supply chain. In partnership with its member organisations that are also direct members of FSI such as the VGB (Dutch Association of Wholesalers in Floricultural Products), Union Fleurs is willing to engage in projects related to the international supply-chain of flowers and plants. The projects submitted by FSI members are currently under review by IDH; the implementation period is scheduled from mid-2014 until end of 2015.

AIPH 2014 spring meeting & International Green City Conference (31 March- 3 April, London, UK)

AIPH will organise its 2014 Spring Meeting and International Green City conference & Dinner from 31 March to 03 April 2014 in Central London, UK.

With a full programme of expert speakers talking about the importance of greening cities and illustrating how it can be done through case studies from The Netherlands, Australia and Chinese Taipei as well as from the UK, this year’s event promises to be truly international. Moreover, the conference is organised with the support of Frosts Landscape Construction Ltd as the Headline Partner and will focus on the theme ’Growing green and healthy places”.

The AIPH Spring Meeting will take a different approach this year and will be scheduled to allow more time for debating the issues facing the industry and for sharing initiatives and ideas. The day will include a general meeting to enable discussion on a draft Strategic Plan for AIPH.

Click here to download the press release.

A Valentine’s Video from Florverde

On the Eve of Valentine’s Day, The Colombian Social and Environmental Standard for the flower sector, Florverde Sustainable Flowers, released a promotional Video portraying the Colombian farms and workers to be circulated on the most popular Social Media platforms.

Click here to watch the Video.

HPP Exhibitions announces RECORD NUMBER OF EXHIBITORS at IFTEX 2014

Illustrating the growing importance of African countries in general and Kenya in particular in the international production and trade of flowers, the third edition of the International Flower Trade Expo in Nairobi, Kenya is already sold out with a record number of exhibitors showing a 25% increase from last year. Victim of the show’s own success, the organizers are considering to extend the fair by creating an extra Hall. The currently 160 exhibitors who were early enough to book their space are mostly composed of Kenyan flower growers, but also growers from other flower producing nations such as Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania and even from Latin America i.e. from Ecuador and Colombia. Not only is the show fully booked three months before its opening, but HPP exhibitions is also reproting a strong growing number of pre registered buyers compared to 2013.

IFTEX is most likely to keep growing in the coming years and is expected to move from a regional flower trade fair to becoming the second or third largest show in the world by the time it hits five years in Nairobi in 2016.

CIOPORA Annual General Meeting 2014

CIOPORA, the international organisation of breeders of asexually reproduced ornamental and fruit plants, announced that it will hold its next Annual General Meeting in the Hague from March 31 to April 3. Members of the Association will have the opportunity to define its future by providing their input to CIOPORA’s new Position Papers on Intellectual Property (IP). During the Open part of the meeting, CIOPORA guests will join members to attend several presentations from a number of high-level speakers on highly interesting IP related matters, including the IP strategy of the major producer of electronics, the issues of biodiversity and its role for the future of plant breeding, the FRAND-licensing of IP rights, as well as insight into the future of the global horticulture from the point of view of an experienced financier.

Click here to download the press release.


IFTEX 2014 (4-6 June 2014 – Nairobi, Kenya)

The International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX) will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on 4-6 June 2014 at Oshwal Centre, Westlands.

Union Fleurs secretary general Sylvie Mamias will be there to represent Union Fleurs and the interest of the international Flower trade but also to meet with its Kenyan member organisation, the Kenya Flower Council who is supporting the expo. Ms Mamias will be available throughout the duration of the fair to discuss about Union Fleurs and its ongoing activities and projects. Do not hesitate to contact her at: secgen@unionfleurs.org.

For further information please visit the IFTEX website.