The Netherlands is number one in the international ornamentals sector and FloraHolland lies at the heart of it.
The three great export auctions in Aalsmeer, Naaldwijk and Rijnsburg, together with three regional auctions (Rhein-Maas, Bleiswijk and Eelde), form a single market place where supply and demand come together from all over the world. Research is essential to enable FloraHolland to remain the world trendsetter. The flower auction regularly finds Wageningen University & Research Food & Biobased Research at its side.
Until 1 April, Geeske Punt was the head of FloraHolland’s Product Quality Knowledge Centre. She sees Food & Biobased Research as a knowledge partner that complements her company extremely well and vice versa.
CoCos: sustainable transport using sea containers
An example of FloraHolland and Food & Biobased Research working together is the CoCos project. The aim of this industry-wide project was to determine whether cut flowers can be transported in air-conditioned containers without loss of quality. Transport by sea container is cheaper for the trade than air transport. Moreover, sea transport is more in keeping with the aim of making the logistical fresh flowers chain more sustainable, because of the much lower CO2 emissions. According to Punt, the project produced interesting results: “You can transport cut flowers very well by sea, provided you ensure that you regulate the temperature of the cut flowers properly throughout the logistical chain and that you provide the correct conditions in the container. The research showed that the average daily temperature can be lower during sea transport than during the more rapid transport by air. This average is a measure for the quality of the flower in the vase and is equal to the temperature during transport multiplied by number of days.”
The right facilities
To quote Punt: “We are important as a research partner because we can test innovations in practice for applicability and bring market parties together. And in Wageningen they possess expertise that we do not have in-house. For example, we are conducting joint research with Applied Plant Research Lisse (another part of Wageningen University & Research, red.) into zantedeschia stem rot. A bacterial infection causes the stem of this cut flower to become slimy in the vase, so that it becomes worthless for the consumer. This was an impalpable problem for us, but Food & Biobased Research has the facilities to enable it to show which bacterium causes the problem and how we may be able to detect it. We are thus able to complement each other.”
Since 1 April, Geeske Punt has been working as a departmental manager for Distributie Snijbloemen in Naaldwijk. This has put an end to her regular contacts with Wageningen. The cooperation was always good and pleasant, she says. “We sometimes had heated discussions, because we both have our pet subjects. But it is precisely because of that that you make progress. You keep each other up to the mark: from research design stage up to and including the implementation.”
This testimonial was published in the Food & Biobased newsletter - April 2011