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Bringing High-Quality Flowers to China from Around the World

April 24, 2019

Produce Report recently had the opportunity to interview Robin de Vos, Managing Director of Holex Shanghai Trading, to discuss the company’s progress and expectations for the Chinese market. Holex is a Dutch flower export company that sources flowers from around the world and exports them to more than 30 countries. The company opened its Shanghai office last year in an effort to increase their focus on the Chinese market, and China is currently the second-largest country in terms of sales for Holex after the United States.

As part of Dutch Flower Group, the world’s biggest flower company encompassing all aspects of the flower industry, including sourcing companies, export companies, and retail companies, Holex Shanghai Trading imports flowers from countries such as Holland, South Africa, and Ecuador and, after strict quality checks, distributes them to wholesalers throughout China. According to Mr. de Vos, as their sourcing partners have people on the ground in the growing regions and know the best growers, this leads to high-quality flowers reaching Chinese consumers: “with the whole Dutch Flower Group, we are able to offer the Chinese customer a worldwide range of flowers sourced by our own people.”

Flowers from Holex 1

Since starting in China seven years ago, Holex has seen considerable growth, with import volumes now reaching 7,000–10,000 kg of flowers per week. Mr. de Vos attributed this success to the company’s regular attendance at expos, commitment to delivering the best-quality flowers, and excellent customer service, with Chinese staff in both Shanghai and Holland to serve customers in their own language. In addition, the company’s webshop with product pictures allows customers to see what they are getting prior to ordering.

At present, Holex’s most popular product is tulips, and the company will soon start to ship Dutch hydrangeas, which are very popular in China. The company also ships large amounts of greens such as eucalyptus, and fritillaries, which are only available for a short period each year. In addition to these traditional flowers, the company also works with growers to rapidly promote and ship new varieties and colors, taking advantage of the high receptiveness of the Chinese market to new products. In particular, dyed flowers such as rainbow tulips have proved popular in China, in contrast to other markets.

Flowers from Holex 2

One of the major challenges in importing and distributing cut flowers throughout China is their high sensitivity, which requires the cold chain to be strictly maintained to ensure high product quality on arrival. Mr. de Vos explained that the most important factor is to reduce the temperature as much as possible prior to dispatch, followed by air freight and overnight transport. While expensive, this is essential for making sure that high-quality flowers reach wholesalers and customers.

Image source: MZMC

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