Rose breeding companies Rosen Tantau (Germany), NIRP International (France/Italy) and Terra Nigra (Netherlands) have recently partnered with Edgardo Lalic, a cut flower grower from Argentina, to test the latest breeding breakthroughs in cut roses.
In November last year, Lalic travelled to the Netherlands for the annual meeting of Rosen Tantau reps. Here, area sales managers of all five continents painted a picture of the current status of the world wide rose industry. Interestingly, the market in Argentina is quite similar to India in terms of infringement of plant breeder’s rights. As a result, the European rose breeding companies hesitate to launch their new breeding breakthroughs in both countries. Local rose producers, having no other choice than to grow old, somewhat outdated varieties, find it increasingly difficult to compete with import roses that often come in exciting new colours, sizes, shapes and have a better vase life.
Commenting on the Colombian and Ecuadorian rose industry, Lalic said that Kenya is taking away some of their market share. This African nation has approximately 3000ha dedicated to cut rose growing. Growers operate at altitudes of 1900-2600 meters above sea level, and can harvest every fifty to fifty five days on average ,while in Ecuador you need ninety-five days for example. Meanwhile, labor costs in Kenya are US $150, compared to US $750 in Ecuador per worker, taking into consideration the final cost to the company. “Kenyan roses have a slightly smaller bud size than Ecuadorian roses, but bigger buds compared than Colombian roses (if grown at altitudes higher than 2200 meters above sea level). This explains why the first Colombian entrepreneurs started rose farms in Kenya and Ethiopia, “ commented Lalic.
Meanwhile, Ecuador finds itself in a challenging business environment due to rising production and freight costs. Export growth to Russia has leveled off and this creates a bit of a headache among Ecuadorian rose growers who, at the same time, see that Kenya’s rapidly expanding ornamental horticulture is much in the news these days. Nevertheless, Ecuadorian roses managed to bolster their position in the US market while, the Andean nation also started exporting to new countries worldwide. There are significant logistic challenges to be overcome if the Kenya flower industry is to expand into the North American market. These include reliability of product supply, flower quality at final point of sale after long duration shipment and integration of logistical systems.
The rose still dominates the international flower trade, and nearly all the cut roses destined for sale in Europe pass through the Netherlands. Most of them are imported from Africa but the trade still needs home grown Dutch roses. At FloraHolland, not far short of four billion rose stems were sold in 2011. The Dutch flower auction, however, is facing very challenging times. It struggles to grow its business due to soaring costs. ”The Dutch auction is slowly but steadily losing grower members and customers as more and more growers are closing transactions with the big box stores at a fixed price for the year,” said Lalic. He added, “As a result, auction prices fluctuate a lot and this makes growers nervous. Some of them are facing the inability to generate sufficient business profits; they have no influence on the price setting while energy costs, especially gas continue to increase.” The glasshouse area down to roses in the Netherlands has fallen from 800ha to less than 400ha over the last ten years. All in all, each year Europe sees a steep decline in cut rose production while rose cut rose experts claim that there will be always room in Europe for top quality rose production. But as is always the case, the performance of individual companies might vary: while the outlook can be good for some it can be bad for others.
When asked about how he came to represent three European breeding companies, Lalic said, “Following the success of their new market strategy for India, I was authorized by Rosen Tantau, NIRP and Terra Nigra to showcase their roses. Our premises in Rosario now gather the most complete offer of the world’s leading rose breeding companies under one roof.” Now that Lalic has affiliated with these reputable firms, how will he implement their selling strategy?
“We will adopt the same approach as over the past three years. Bud wood from Italy, Holland and Germany will be brought in for grafting, while we will build new greenhouse structures.” Seedlings that have commercial potential are recorded, while those that haven’t met the set quality standards within two years will be destroyed. “The three showcases are located in Rosario, where we can guarantee similar growing conditions,” Lalic said. He continued, “The Rosario location offers the extra benefit of being well-protected and secured, avoiding robbery and hence circulation of non-patented material in our rose production areas. Argentine rose producers now have direct access to tried and tested new varieties and this reduces the risk of failure. By having access to the latest varieties, which are being tested at the same time in Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and Brazil, Argentine rose growers can now more easily compete with import roses. Moreover, by grafting in Argentina, the producer can reduce costs in terms of airfreight, customs and import costs. Savings can be up to US$1 per plant. Moreover, deliveries are scheduled and on time while an agronomist deliver the necessary crop support during the first stage of the planting.” |||
By Verónica Langé and Ron van der Ploeg