The quality of the flower supply chain begins at the farm

Our team members Bart Pouwels and Jonas van Stekelenburg travelled all the way to Ethiopia to catch up with flower growers and experience first-hand how the flower supply chain is set into motion.

After an interesting journey and some good meetins with representatives out of the flower industry, Bart and Jonas arrived at DűmmenOrangeEU, a Dutch flower grower based in Ethiopia, to meet with general manager Bas Terlouw.

We were keen to learn more about how flower farms work, and from a supply chain perspective, how these flowers and plants are transported from the farm to the rest of the world. At the farm the team got to experience the strict code of conduct when it came to hygiene; no one was allowed in the nursery before getting thoroughly disinfected!

Making the move towards paperless freight turns out to be a major challenge in Africa as well, with piles of paper stacked up in the offices as evidence. Jonas and Bart also got to experience the ‘cool’ cool chain, in which flowers were literally being kept cool with ice bags in the boxes, and they learned another interesting challenge; the differences in regulations for flower cuttings between the EU and the US.

The US and EU have a different approach when it comes to flower growing regulations. Many pesticides and other chemicals are not permitted in the EU market, which is contrary to the US where the use of these synthetic resources are obligatory. DűmmenOrangeEU has to treat plants and flowers going to the US differently than those going to Europe, as the European market prescribes that they have to use biological solutions such special flies/insects to fight flower lice.

Our two organisations highlighted opportunities such as those related to fair trade and shared partnerships. The importance of high-end and sustainable quality at the beginning of the supply chain, together with better packaging, has also been explained, as it ensures the best quality and the longest life for each plant and flower. DűmmenOrangeEU has made it its high priority to keep cuttings as healthy as possible by retaining them moist, using plastic and paper, for the highest quality results.

Thanks go to Bas Terlouw for showing us around, and giving us some valuable insights in the flower supply chain.