From flowers to livestock – Dutch auction offers insights

Terry Sim, March 20, 2017

Flowers are trollied around on the Royal FloraHolland factory floor.


AUSTRALIA’S livestock selling systems could take a leaf from the Netherlands flower auction system by introducing produce and EID compliance quality rankings, according to Hans van der Hoek, owner of Netherlands-based livestock data company Litams.

A group of Victorian livestock saleyard managers this month visited the Royal FloraHolland auction headquarters at Aalsmeer, south of Netherland’s capital Amsterdam, during a tour investigating the European Union’s electronic sheep identification systems.

They were told that growers offering flowers at Netherlands’ auctions – where more than half the world’s cut flowers and plants are sold — are given a ranking based on the quality of their offerings, with A1 being the highest.

The quality ranking is displayed with every flower lot sold at Royal FloraHolland auctions and it can be changed, depending on inspection results and buyer feedback.

Flowers and plants are inspected and grade for freshness, maturity, damage and pests as they are sold. There are four quality grades, from best to worse — A1, A2, B1 and B2 – and A1 growers work hard to maintain their status, the Victorians were told.

Other quality rankings include eBay’s member feedback score and the assessor rating system introduced last year by Australia’s online livestock selling company AuctionsPlus.

However, during a discussion on Dutch sheep producer compliance with the Netherlands’ livestock identification and registration system, Mr van der Hoek said he would love to see Australia incorporate a quality ranking into its livestock selling systems that reflected a farmer’s record of compliance with EID stock movement requirements.

“This morning at the flower market we saw that each of the parties has a classification A1, A, B – I would love to see you put that in your system so you would know if they scan an animal, it has been here for sure,” he said.

“I would love to see it all levels, because what you could do is if he (an A1 producer) makes a departure notice I will automatically accept that as an arrival notice.”

Mr van der Hoek said there were a lot of ‘B’ performers in the livestock EID systems in some countries and quality rankings could help improve system integrity.

Impressed by flower auction

Royal FloraHolland auction clocks with lot information listed for buyers.

Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange manager Paul Christopher said he was impressed with the flower marketing system at the Royal FloraHolland centre, especially the pre-sale information provided with the flowers.

“All that information was put in by the vendor and that was the basis of how everything worked, and that worked like clockwork.”

The concept could have some potential for livestock sales in saleyards with additional pre-sale information provided electronically on sale lots.

“Maybe we should start selling tulips.”

But Mr Christopher said the flower auction showed how good traceability could work, delivering flowers from time of sale to the buyer within two hours.

“It showed that everyone does their job it is traceable right through until it gets into the shop.

“It was amazing how that was all done with bar code technology and the flowers went through several different stations with people scanning and getting the right information so they went to the right spot.

“Very rarely did they lose anything and if it was lost they could find it.”


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