The Dutch flower auction

A quick history and interesting facts about the Dutch flower auction.

Colorful flowers in large creates.
Trolleys of flowers at Royal FloraHolland. Photo credit: Dixie Sandborn

Many who study floriculture become fascinated with the Dutch flower auction in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. The Netherlands produce1.7 billion cut flowers per year. Although the U.S. gets most of its cut flowers from South America, many still travel through Aalsmeer’s Royal FloraHolland, the world’s largest flower auction.

Although the Royal FloraHolland’s once famous Dutch auction clock is now defunct, the auction itself is still fascinating. Today, instead of theatres of buyers from all over the world bidding against the clock, buyers now purchase on the internet as the auctions as evolved. Michigan State University Extension has assembled a little history and a few highlights about the Royal FloraHolland.

  • The flower auction started in two pubs in Aalsmeer in 1910.
  • The auction runs on descending values. This is a type of auction in which the auctioneer starts with a very high price and incrementally lowers it until someone bids.
  • The building that houses the auction is as large as 200 football fields.
  • There are 2,600 people that work at the auction from 44 countries around the globe.
  • At one point, the auction had as many as 35 auction clocks running simultaneously. Here is a video of  Royal FloraHolland and of the auction clock in its glory.
  • More than 60% of the world’s flowers and plants go through the flower auctions in the Netherlands.
  • There are more than 30,000 flower and plant species traded every year.
  • Every workday, 43 million flowers and 4.8 million plants are sold.
  • Every year, 1,200 – 1,500 new products are added to the auction.
  • The most popular flowers at the auction are roses, tulips, chrysanthemums and lilies.
  • There is a floral shuttle at the auction that transports flowers and plants across the building in 10 minutes. Interestingly, it would take a car 45 minutes to drive the same distance.
  • Royal FloraHolland has its own fire brigade, hairdresser, bicycle repairman and fishmonger.
  • Employees travel on bikes due to the enormous size of the building.

If you ever find yourself near Aalsmeer, Netherlands, visit the Royal FloraHolland to fill your senses with unbelievable beauty. You’ll also get a chance to learn about the global flower trade and see the most up to date technology.

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