FloraHolland posts loss, slams negative view of horticulture

Cut flowers at a wholesalers. Photo: DutchNews.nl

FloraHolland, the world’s biggest plant and cut flower auction house, booked a loss of €17 million last year, the second year in a row that the company has ended in the red.

Sales rose slightly to €5.1 billion, but the number of flowers and plants sold fell 3% on 2022. Prices were up marginally.

Chairman Steven van Schilfgaarde said the results were “really disappointing” although a loss had been forecast because of difficult market conditions. The company, based in Aalsmeer, faced a €16 million increase in spending on salaries and €6 million more on energy bills.

Some 3,000 growers are members of the auction house but have not been able to fully pass on their increased costs to consumers. In addition, the sector needs to make major investments to shift to greener energy, Schilfgaarde said.

Moreover, the political debate about the future of the horticulture industry in the Netherlands is having an impact, he said. Earlier this year, central bank chief Klaas Knot called for a rethink on low-wage industries which depend on fossil fuel subsidies, such as greenhouse growing and distribution centres.

“I have been both surprised and annoyed by questionable statements about greenhouse horticulture,” Van Schilfgaarde responded. “We are being described as a sector with low added value that, because we use seasonal workers, will have no place in the future… I miss support from politicians and policy makers.”

The industry, he said, is the only agricultural sector to have agreements in place on becoming completely climate neutral by 2040.

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