Ash Takes Bloom Off the Dutch Rose

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

In case you were wondering how we were coping here in the Netherlands with the flights shut-down stemming from the volcano-ash, a recent article in De Volkskrant by Carien ten Have lays out all the effects pretty well. The executive summary would read: Dutch life has suddenly gotten a lot less romantic for a while, and just when Spring has come and the trees are in bloom!

Even if you don’t read Dutch, that article might be worth a click anyway due to the attractive, if “canned” (i.e. from one of those photo agencies, in this case Colourbox), photo of roses at the top. ‘Cause if there’s one thing everyone associates with Holland, it’s flowers, and that business is heavily dependent on air transport for product-delivery that usually has to happen within a span of a few days, at most. What may come as a surprise is that much of that flower product-delivery to buyers is within the Netherlands – or within the immediate vicinity in Northwest Europe – and sourced with flowers usually flown in from more exotic locales like Kenya and Ecuador. Those are of course now cut-off, and that is the main cause for the steep price-rises now seen here for flowers, whether for foreign ones that got here anyway (or were here before the Eyjafjallajökull volcano blew) or the domestically-grown variety. Still, never fear (if you’ve got the money to pay): “There are sufficient Dutch flowers to supply the European market,” declares Herman de Boon, who is the Dutch answer to Mr. Bean even as he serves at the same time as Chairman of the Dutch Association of Flower Wholesalers.

The situation is similar when it comes to other exotic things that have to be flown in: fruits & vegetables, for instance. There’s still enough in stock, just don’t expect to be able to take your Spring sweetheart to a restaurant to enjoy things like Peruvian asparagus or Egyptian green beans for a while. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical and medical sectors have also felt the flight-ban’s effects; for example, apparently some radiation-based medicines for fighting cancer must be used within 24 hours or they go to waste.

Here’s an informative English-language run-down from Global Post on how the Dutch flower industry has been dealing with a difficult week – including some good news at least for those hospitals, mentioned at the very end.

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