The flower processing specialists of Dutch service company Alkemade International follow a clear and clever path in importing, handling, and marketing flowers from all over the world.
An interview with Quality Manager Peter Gaarthuis about their relationship with Arnelia from South Africa learns that not only mass matters, but that year-round continuity is even more important. Otherwise, processing 200 million stems per year is not possible.
At the end of the 20th century Maarten Alkemade and his wife Claudia, a floral designer, founded a flower processing company. First to unbox and process flowers from South America, and later from many other places in the world as well. Convinced by the quality and reliability Alkemade delivered more foreign farms followed. After all, how nice it is to have hands, eyes, and ears where you sell your flowers, right at the heart of where it all happens: the Dutch auctions of Royal FloraHolland.
Not Just an Unpacking Company
Alkemade International is a full-service processing company, meaning they do more than put flowers in water for the clocks. The current product range consists of both bulk products, such as carnations and gypsophila, and more niche-like products, like hydrangeas, proteas, and waxflowers
"We are often seen as an unpacking company, but we do much more than that. We know the Dutch market, so we help our foreign customers by performing quality control, marketing, and selling both at the clocks as well as through various online marketplaces like Floriday.
One important plus about us being here close to the fire is that we can optimally advise about planning. For instance, when we see a product is not moving well or moves too well, we inform the grower so he can take measures or discuss different supply strategies."
Working in a lively environment, keeping your long-distance customers happy, and seeing so many wonderful flowers pass by every day must be a great job, isn't it?
"It is a nice job, indeed. I have more than one role here at Alkemade, I probably wear four hats. Besides my original job as Quality Manager I am busy with account management, ICT, process optimization, and efficiency. How can we get the grower a better revenue without of course sacrificing quality? How can we manage that those vast streams of products are being unboxed and put in water for auctioning the next day? All those diverse tasks make my job fun."
Arnelia Waxflowers, Protea and Leucospermum
In 2018 some new product groups were introduced to Alkemade International when South African grower Arnelia, the renowned grower of waxflowers from Helix Australia, decided to trust their products to the skilled hands of Alkemade. A nice addition to the existing range, says Peter Gaarthuis:
"Arnelia is a wonderful and grateful customer to have, a pleasure to work with. This grower came to us a few years ago, because they needed a handling company. And we took up the challenge. We now process waxflowers, which is the majority of the 6 million stems of Arnelia's production, but also proteas and leucospermums. Thanks to the strong quality of Arnelia products, processing these flowers is not hard at all. We are never confronted with faulty products, bugs, or any other damage. Transport is the biggest hazard."
Peter explained further how Arnelia fits perfectly in the logistic puzzle that every flower company deals with. The floral world is very much aimed at the big holidays, and Alkemade receives its biggest volumes from December until May. Then comes the long down period during the summer. Arnelia's production runs throughout the summer, which means Alkemade International does not have to scale down tremendously during these months.
Quality Starts With Breeder Helix Australia
There is never a good end product when the chain does not start well. This is the role of Helix Australia. This breeder is very active in constantly improving and monitoring its products to ensure top quality is passed on further up the floral chain all the way to the consumer.
The active role is demonstrated by the extra miles Helix Australia goes, like conducting port harvest trials on all the waxflowers that Arnelia has produced this year. These tests were independently conducted by Royal FloraHolland, and their results are openly shared with waxflower customers in the EU.
Helix Australia also helps to get the chain moving by sampling its waxflowers to floral designers through whom the product is shown to a larger audience. This is very important to create awareness for this niche product.
Adrian Parsons, Managing Director of Helix Australia comments on this:
“Helix Australia greatly appreciates the important role Alkemade plays in the distribution of our waxflower hybrids in the EU. It is great to have an organized contact on the ground in the Netherlands who can pull samples of our waxflower for use in promotional activity as well as the extensive post-harvest trials that we continue to conduct on our hybrids with Royal FloraHolland."
Available Through J.P. Hogewoning
Since the very beginning, all flowers from Colombia and Ecuador have always been marketed through J.P. Hogewoning. This Dutch wholesaler has a wide network of clients. So, in case you are curious about Arnelia's waxflowers, proteas, nutans, or any other products that are processed by Alkemade International, just turn to this wholesaler.