The commercial director of Koppe Begonia, André Vreugdenhil, is always looking for new ways how to make it easier for begonia growers. In this interview, Andre gives an insight into the world of creating, selecting, and marketing begonias globally. He also shows you the three most important introductions of Koppe, which will be shown to professionals in floriculture at the FlowerTrials 2022.
International Market Leader in Begonias
The market for begonia plants is huge, Andre visits grower customers all around the world. He just returned from a trip to Scandinavia where he met a few Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish begonia growers. To collect and give relevant market information. This year he also visited the United States and Russia, and he is planning to go to South America as well. Koppe is the international market leader in breeding and cultivation when it comes to begonias.
"I see the role of Koppe Begonia mainly as a facilitating one; we give market insights and help growers perform. From the trade viewpoint, what are they looking for, and how to anticipate to their wishes and expectations as a grower, but we also have lots of consumer information, about what a potential begonia buyer wants to see when purchasing flowering or green potted plants as begonias."
Koppe Begonia Creates 40K Seedlings Every Year
The company Koppe Begonia cross-breeds around 40,000 new seedlings every year. Of which this year only three varieties will be introduced to the markets. Besides the creation of new begonia varieties and the cultivation and production of Begonia cuttings in plugs to growers, Koppe is also seen as a strong and important partner to growers because of the knowledge about what happens at the grower, trade, and at the consumer level.
"It's comment sense, but not many consumers are aware of this, but we select new begonia varieties for example on the characteristic that the flowers grow above the leaves, and are clearly visible.
Of course, there are a lot of different characteristics on which begonias are selected in the breeding process. Some of these characteristics are important to the growers, and some more for the trade. And in the end, we want a consumer to pick the begonia from the shelves at the supermarket, garden center, or flower shop. It has to be an attractive plant."
André’s Take on the Current Situation With the High Gas Prices
Because the cultivation of begonias requires a temperature of 20°C it is a relatively warm process. The people of Koppe Begonia anticipate the risen prices of gas by delivering a larger plant to the grower. With more spacing in the trays. A larger plug that has received more heat and some extra light helps the grower to quicker propagate the plug into a finished product. And hence, saving costs for the grower.
"This way you make it easier for the grower to use less gas and use less light to save on production costs. This way it is possible for the grower to shorten the production time, get high-quality plants, and give him more return on investment. But, of course, it all starts with supplying the best small plants possible. That is our vision; to deliver the best plugs."
In their search for the best red begonia plant, this is exactly what they are looking for. A plant that grows faster whilst needing less warmth and light, gives a grower the advantage of up to two weeks less production time. The variety 'Halo' which will be introduced at the coming FlowerTrials is such a variety. It has been thoroughly tested by different growers who all were very positive.
Begonia Rana and Appleblossom
At the FlowerTrials, there will be two other introductions. One is from the famous Koppe Rilona segment, called Rana. A beautiful orange begonia with a pink-red edge around the flower that has the advantage of growing compact naturally, not needing inhibitors at all, or just a very little. The other introduction is from the Florensio outdoor segment and is called .... This is a two-color white with a pink edge on the flower. The plant is very well-branched, and the flowers are huge and well-positioned above the leaves of the plants so that they are really good visible.
At the FlowerTrials, Koppe shows the facilitating role they have in the whole process in the world of begonias. Besides the fact they give important market information and their expectations for the future, they also give cultivation advice on how to grow, and which variety to choose, for which purpose.
"That is why we have segmented our range, which, by the way, has the broadest spectrum of genetics in begonias. Koppe does this in a way to make it possible for any market segment in the world of begonias to find varieties that will give growers the best return on investment. Of course, it all starts with the best young plants, then it is important to also help our partners with not only cultivation advice, but marketing and branding as well. Think about general promotion for begonias, brand visuals, and even sleeve designs and other promotional materials."
Next Halve of 2022
André's expectation for the coming months is that, although he sees it has been a very good start to the year until March, it will be a bit more challenging for the third and fourth quarters of 2022. Because of the uncertainty about the markets in Eastern Europe due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the demand for profit in getting plants has diminished quite a bit. This is also reflected in the price level. And then, the risen prices for resources in general, next to the rises in gas prices, also make an impact.
André Vreugdenhil continues:
"Next to this I also believe that the way in which consumers are buying flowering plants has changed a bit. People are happy to go out to visit restaurants and bars again, making the need for flowering plants less important to them with regards to the last two years. We see this mainly in Europe as the people in the United States are a bit more positive, and are still buying flowering plants in large numbers.
So, what we see is that some growers will wait a little while before planning their winter program. But I am confident that when growers decide to grow begonias, they will choose Koppe varieties. We are ready!"
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