Dutch Flower Exports Slump 6.6% as Demand Weakens Across Europe

The Netherlands’ flower and plant exports, the world’s biggest, slumped 6.6 percent last month on falling demand across Europe and plunged 23 percent in Spain after a tax increase.

Shipments slid to 371.4 million euros ($482.2 million) from 397.7 million euros in September 2011, the Aalsmeer, Netherlands-based Dutch Agricultural Wholesale Board for Flowers and Plants wrote in a report on its website today.

Dutch flower sales to southern European countries including Italy and Spain dropped this year as Europe’s debt crisis hurt consumer confidence, according to the report. Spain raised value-added tax on flora to 21 percent from 8 percent last month, further hurting demand, it showed.

“The VAT increase for flowers and plants in Spain as of Sept. 1 immediately impacted on sales,” the board wrote. “Rumors about an imminent VAT increase in Germany are also circulating again.”

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is the biggest market for flowers from the Netherlands. Dutch flower and plant exports to the country fell 4.4 percent in September to 104.2 million euros. Shipments to Spain slid to 7.22 million euros.

Deliveries to the U.K., the second-biggest buyer of Dutch blooms, slipped 2.2 percent to 56 million euros. Exports to France slumped 6.2 percent to 46.8 million euros and shipments to Italy fell 9.8 percent to 27.1 million euros.

Exports to Russia, the biggest client for Dutch flowers and plants outside the EU, dropped 4.6 percent to 15.9 million euros, the board’s data showed. Shipments to the U.S. fell 13 percent to 3.83 million euros.

“Margins are under pressure,” the board wrote. “The cost price of flowers and plants is higher on average, but this often can’t be passed on. Expenses, however, are increasing, among other things because of growing payment problems.”

Total nine-month exports rose 4 percent to 4.2 billion euros, boosted by a 33 percent jump in shipments to Russia and increased deliveries to the U.K. and Germany. The board predicted a 4 percent gain in full-year shipments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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