Top 10 Cuttings Producers

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Believe it or not, mums are the big story in this year’s report, as a common denominator among the top three cuttings producers in the world.

We started our Top 10 Cuttings Producers survey and report four years ago to learn more about companies supplying vegetative propagation material globally. For many of these producers, Europe is the primary market and North America is a secondary but growing market, especially in vegetative annuals and blooming potted plants.

One crop I didn’t appreciate enough when we began this survey was chrysanthemums, which are propagated for blooming potted plants, garden plants and mostly fresh cut flowers worldwide. There is trade protection prohibiting chrysanthemum cuttings from coming into the United States from outside sources to prevent diseases like chrysanthemum white rust from becoming established. As a result, Yoder Brothers always had the dominant position here and any competing lines were propagated in the United States, like at GroLink in California.

Yoder has since sold its mum lines to Syngenta Flowers, which increased its cuttings production by more than 100 million cuttings this year. Fides and Yoder used to collaborate globally on mum lines and production, but now Fides is focused on its own genetics. While Fides is known in the United States for flowering potted plants and annuals, 65 percent of its cutting production is for cut flower farms. Fides, which ranks at No. 1 producing 800-850 million cuttings at farms in five countries, is owned by Kirin Holding Company in Japan but based in De Lier in The Netherlands.

We also just learned about Beekenkamp, a large family-owned breeder, producer and
broker based in Westland, The Netherlands. It acquired Florema, a breeder and young plant producer last year, and also owns Deliflor, a very large chrysanthemum producer that opened a new facility in Holland in June. Of the 635 million cuttings Beekenkamp produces in five countries, 550 million are chrysanthemums and 85 million are bedding and potted plant varieties.
Beekenkamp has a joint venture with Holtkamp Greenhouses in Tennessee selling unrooted cuttings to North American growers. (See page 34.)

While there are only a few companies specializing in chrysanthemums, globally they remain a very important crop, which is why these lines were of interest to Syngenta. Vegetative annuals continue to be the most important category for Syngenta Flowers, encompassing geraniums and New Guinea impatiens from Fischer and a wide range of annuals from Goldsmith and the former S&G Flowers. The poinsettia piece came from Fischer.

Top 10 Cuttings Producers
 Rank  Company Quantity Produced* Greenhouse
Square Footage
HQ Countries 
1.  Fides B.V. 800-850 million 7,535,880 Holland five
2. Beekenkamp 635 million 8,611,128 Holland six
3. Syngenta Flowers 550-600 million n/a Switzerland seven
4. Selecta Klemm 230-250 million 3,659,730 Germany three
5. Dummen 200-220 million 6,048,196 Germany three
6.  Oro Farms 200 million* 6,100,000 (shade and field) Guatemala one
7.  Ball FloraPlant 190-200 million 4,700,000 United States four
8. ForemostCo 190-200 million 653,400 plus 150 shade acres United States nine
9. Cohen Nurseries 155 million* 1,151,247 Israel one
10.  McGregor Plant Sales/Florexpo 120-135 million 4,305,564 Costa Rica one

* = estimate

What does it take to be successful in today’s unrooted cutting business?

“Reputation, relationship with our customers, customer satisfaction, quality, quantity and service!!” – Fides B.V. 

“Solid and well-organized offshore production facilities and well-organized logistics. Only when these are in place can a sales organization do a reliable job.” – Ruud Veenenbos, Beekenkamp

“Excellence in supply chain in terms of: timely supplies, high-quality logistics, standardized cuttings, low costs per cutting, and last but not least, free of pests and diseases. These points are fundamental to us. We thrive to become a top supplier in our peer group.” – Per Klemm, Selecta Klemm
 
“Quality, reliability and services together with a great assortment of genetics is the package that drives the most value for our customers.” – Allan Davidson, Ball FloraPlant 

“To produce absolutely quality plants and to be innovative and full of new ideas.” – Zsofia-Angeli-Wies, GGG
 
“Produce clean, fresh, quality cuttings delivered when promised at a competitive cost. And continue to do this week after week.” – Paul Gaydos, GroLink Plant Co.
 
“It requires good forecasting, communicating with customers, inventory controls, great products, quality, production and great marketing. Must have reliability as illustrated in Oglevee clean stock CVI geraniums and be a responsible breeder and supplier. Also, being a solution supplier, as seen in freight trucking and having reliable, cutting-edge, Web-based systems to support production and distribution.” – Steve Rinehart, Paul Ecke Ranch
 
“Building relationships with both the brokers and customers that are based on quality, reliability, cleanliness, flexibility, value and integrity.” – Troy Lucht, Plant Source International

Strategic Maneuvers

After Syngenta purchased Goldsmith and the Yoder mum and aster lines, the next big headline in the cuttings world was Selecta Klemm aligning itself with Ball Horticultural Co. for distribution in North America.  While all unrooted cuttings will be sold through Ball, Selecta’s root-and-sells will still be able to sell liners through any broker they choose. There will be open distribution at the rooted level. 

This is the first year we’ve had Ball FloraPlant in the rankings and report. The vegetative breeding/producing division of Ball Horticultural Co. will produce between 190-200 million cuttings at its farms in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Portugal this year. Expansion is likely in Guatemala next year. Seventy percent of the cuttings are shipped to growers in the United States. The strongest gains are coming from unique varieties in new and core crops, while certain commoditized products are declining.

Ball FloraPlant’s biggest challenge has been dealing with volatility in offshore costs while still providing grower customers a reliable, economical source of supply. “This has renewed our standing commitment to continuous improvement in production efficiency,” says Ball FloraPlant’s General Manager Allan Davidson. “We also have invested in post-harvest processes and technologies from picking and packing of orders through farm to grower cold chain management.”

On the expansion side, Dümmen’s new 23-acre greenhouse facility in El Salvador is planted and ready for the spring season. A second, 18-acre facility is in the works. Why El Salvador? “We researched the location in detail to find the ideal growing climate for the highest quality cuttings: high light, low humidity and good temperatures,” says Iris Schulz-Dümmen, who is general manager of the operation with her husband, Simon Schulz. Both managed Dummen’s former Canary Islands operation. “Also, proximity to two major airports allows flexibility in efficiently shipping to U.S. and Canadian customers and for receiving our proprietary cultures from Europe.”

Most cuttings are produced in Africa to serve Europe and in Latin America to serve North America. These countries include Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Asia has emerged on the tropicals side, especially in orchids. ForemostCo works with farms in Taiwan, Malaysia and China. Beekenkamp plans to expand production in Uganda next year to support gains in Europe and Asia.

Selecta streamlined its production centers from seven farms to three in Tenerife, Kenya and Uganda, with plans to expand production in Kenya and Uganda. “By having reorganized our unrooted cutting production structure from seven to three centers and having centers of competence in our main crops, we are sure to have made the right steps in taking a top position,” says Per Klemm, who owns the business with his brothers, Nils and Christian. “We see strong gains in flowering potted plants, as well as in annuals for our sales.”

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at donofrey@gmail.com
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