The World Is Flat, the bestseller by Thomas Friedman, was the conversation sparker at this year’s Seeley Conference held at Cornell University. The topic for the event, held June 23-27, was “The Globalization Of Business: Will Floriculture Prosper?” What are today’s global business trends? How do politics and culture affect those trends? And who is responsible for the success of the global marketplace?
The debate was lively as industry and academia discussed the ups and downs of doing business overseas. A major theme of The World Is Flat and the conference was technology. The Internet, e-mail, software and new logistics systems have all helped growers and their buyers and suppliers connect globally.
All Around The World
The Seeley Conference looked at global perspectives on the floriculture industry from Europe and the Americas. The success of the flower auctions in the Netherlands is based on three factors: a wide and deep assortment of products year round, the concentration of supply and demand in an international marketplace and guaranteed payment. Consumers in Europe are looking for products that are created in an environmentally sustainable way, as well as a socially conscious way. They’re looking for new products and applications and a differentiation in assortment and price because of an aging population and an increase in the number of one- and two-person households.
Latin American markets are growing as input and cut flower providers. Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil and Chile each have their advantages and disadvantages as floriculture producers. The floriculture industries of Mexico and Brazil are focused more on the countries’ local markets, while Colombia, Ecuador and Chile are growing as exporters.
The growing Chinese floriculture market was discussed, along with those in other Asian and African countries by companies that have operations on those continents. China offers technology, research facilities and contract research for corporations. A culture that is big on innovation and entrepreneurship makes it a growing competitor for import dollars. India and African countries have weaker infrastructures but the advantages of strong entrepreneurial spirits in India and inexpensive labor in African countries.
When doing business across national borders, trading partners and consumers want to know the growing conditions of the products they import–in the areas of environmental responsibility and worker rights. The MPS, the Dutch Floriculture Environmental Project, is an assurance body that regulates environmental and social standards. Florverde was created by Asocolflores in 1996 for the same purposes, and 70 percent of Asocolflores growers are in the program.
The Certification And Accreditation Administration Of The People’s Republic Of China (CNCA) and the Chinese Flowers Association have signed a declaration of intent with MPS. In that collaboration, knowledge will be shared on improving growing methods, environmental standards and a structure in which Chinese floricultural products can be certified by MPS.