“Horticulture is like an old banger driving along an old road, and ornamental plants are more like a Ferrari speeding along a motorway.” Spanish ornamental plant and flower companies are taking on changes by executive order, but they are adapting quickly. They make up a booming sector that is finding its place on the market with the competitive advantage given by the greenhouse model, taking advantage of the gap which, at least during the coldest months, Holland is going to leave due to the unacceptable rise in energy prices. But the Spanish sector is not escaping from the increase in energy prices, or that of the inputs, with a rise of around +30% in plastic materials, transport or products such as bamboo, imported from China, the price of which has doubled over the past year. “We have to spend between 30-40 cents more on each flower pot, on a plant that costs 5€” the Manager of Solisplant, Jorge Solís explains.
The company from Almeria, a family-run business that was started up in 1999, with a long history in the sector, is immersed in the campaign of the star product for these dates, the Poinsettia. A product with which they try to “surprise” every year. Over this period, their greenhouses are covered with a Christmas blanket of 312,000 Poinsettias, mostly in bright red. But not only this, there are also Poinsettias with different leaf shapes and shades: yellow, orange, variegated and an eye-catching pink that they also market outside the winter dates. The company’s aim is to “generate enthusiasm amongst customers” and, at the same time, open up a market amongst less conventional consumers and young people. “We have seen a change in purchasing habits. There is a new generation of 16- to 38-year-olds who look for and collect plants. It is an affordable hobby that is easy to maintain. It brings about many benefits and personal well-being.”
The Christmas campaign started off strongly and, by the end of November, it had already reached the levels of 2021. The generalised drop in consumption has made few inroads to the wish to celebrate Christmas and only sales of the largest formats have fallen slightly. The standard Poinsettia, the 14 cm format, continues to be the most popular, and at Solisplant they have helped this to be the case by making a 10% adjustment to the prices compared to last year. The key point to be able to drop the price has been optimising the production to ensure less wastage.
The great retail challenge
Spanish large distribution has started incorporating ornamental plant sales many years after other European countries, and it still has a great deal to learn about marketing this line of products. “They are not aware of the benefits they can bring; they see them as an inconvenience, and at times they treat the plants in the same way as a bottle of soft drink, they are lacking in delicacy,” Solís affirms. Offering quality at the right price is a pending challenge, as is the optimising of the distribution channels. “In general, they sell with narrow margins, but this gets lost along the way due to the logistics system, which is very expensive.”
Solisplant has 29 ha in production in Western Almeria, with 10 ha for green or interior plants and the remainder for seasonal flowering plants such as the Poinsettia. In total, it produces 4.5 million plants in different sizes and formats. The Dipladenia is the product with the largest volume, with 2 million units/year.
As in all cases, on the subject of sales they try to keep a balance, with 50-50% going to the Spanish market and export.