One of the places we visited in the on the Nuffield CSC in The Netherlands was the Flower Auction. I can understand your first thought, why take a brunch of farmers to an auction house, and why flowers. I almost asked it myself, however it quickly became apparent why the Flower market was exactly the sort of place to visit.
I was unaware, until I visited Flora Holland, that most of the flowers we buy in England are grown in The Netherlands and an even larger percentage are sold there. The scale of the industry and the auction house is massive - numerous warehouses all the size of a couple of football pitches back to back holding nothing but flowers. Each day starts at 6.00am when the auctions begin - and yes they are Dutch auctions with the price moving downward rather than upward - and hundreds of thousands if not millions of flowers are sold. Amazingly each lot is passed before the buyers whilst being sold, the logistics in such an operation can hardly be believed.
Attention to detail was clearly important, for example each type of flower has its own ideal temperature so each warehouse is cooled to a different temperature depending on which type of flower is passing through. Everything is electronically coded, labelled and tracked from arrival from the producer to being shipped out by the buyer.
This operation is entirely farmer owned, the whole company is a cooperative designed to give the growers the best possible price. I’m sure that many growers would still feel that prices are too low and certainly there appeared to be a great deal of supply, however, small scale growers, by joining together have the size to take on the large buyers in a fair market. Whilst not perfect does certain gives food for thought. Below are the banks of buyers who turn up each day. (sorry the photo is a little blurred)
One thing which cannot be doubted was that it was a hugely impressive operation.