Out first post in the series looked at how growers mass produce flowers for the commerical market but how do flowers from thousands of growers and nurseries picked today arrive at your local florist by Thursday? The answer, Flower auction companies such as FloraHolland. FlorraHolland is one of the largest flower auction companies in the world. Based across six different locations in Holland, it’s a growers collective bringing together growers from the flower regions of Holland and all over the world with the bule flower buyers from around the world.
You may think flower auctions wouldn’t be very interesting, flowers come in, people bid, flowers leave with the winner but that is where you would be wrong. Due to the sheer size of what happens in the small town of Aalsmeer known as the flower capital of the world it, makes it a very interesting process indeed. It has 5,200 members, 9,000 suppliers, 3,500 buyers, and employs 4,500 with the Dutch floricultural business supporting 250,000 jobs worldwide. It sells over 40 million flowers generating 16 million euros everyday and is housed in the second largest building in the world covering 990,000m2 (10.6 million ft sq) that’s 175 football pitches. How this all works together to allow for fresh flowers to go from grower to buyer in a few days is a logistical miracle considering the rapid turnaround and sheer number of people in voloved.
To get an idea of how FloraHolland manage to do, here is a breakdown of 24 hours in the auction house
1700 – Flowers are packed and loaded onto trolleys by the growers which are taken to the auction house. An electronic form is completed by the grower as proof of quality and pickup.
2200 – The flowers arrive and are scanned into the system where they are immediately taken to the refrigerated area where they are grouped by variety. The trolleys are taken back to the grower so the flowers for the next day can be loaded.
0400 – Quality inspectors do random checks looking at over 30 criteria on the flowers to make sure that they are the quality specified by the grower. Once quality control has been passed the plants are ready for auction
0600 – The auction begins. Auctions take place across all six of FloraHolland’s sites across the Netherlands. There are 13 auction rooms with a total of 40 different auction clocks. The flowers are brought in on airport style baggage trolleys where a picture appears on the clock with all the information about the flowers visible to the potential buyers. The auction happens in reverse with the price starting at the highest amount and falling to the lowest. All buyers have a button on their console, which allows them to buy the quantity of flowers at the current clock price they desire. The process continues till all the flowers are sold. These auctions can take place over the internet as well meaning buyers don’t have to be in the room to bid.
1100 – By now the flowers have been whizzed around the giant distribution areas and loaded onto the buyers carts. Once the buyer’s orders are complete they are wrapped and loaded onto the trucks for shipping where they leave on the same day to their destination.
This cycle continues on every weekday throughout the year once dispatched the flowers make their long journey by lorry to the local florist where they arrive 2-3 days after they were cut from their growing fields ready to be sold to the public