We are preparing for the 2023 peak period with all the usual, plus a few additional measures to fulfil the end times as often as possible, even during the peak. With effect from 3 April, we are therefore adapting our logistics practices. In Naaldwijk and Aalsmeer, an accelerated start in flowers and final sprint in plants should lead to better and more predictable logistics results. We will also auction higher volumes per transaction at all export locations from April to June.
Just like last year, we will have another challenging peak period this year. There is uncertainty about production as growers cut costs and let greenhouses run cold. Once temperatures rise, we expect a rapid increase in supply, just like last year. We are also facing a shift between direct and auction, these are constantly communicating with one another. It is sure to be busy, but when the exact busy periods and the how busy it will be (volume) is difficult to estimate. We want to deliver our services and logistics as effectively and predictably as possible, knowing that it will remain difficult to find enough colleagues, especially with the rapid increase in workload we expect in early April.
No repeat of last year
We are doing all we can to be ready for the coming peak. We are doing this, for example, by continuously recruiting new staff, deploying office workers as peak help, setting early auction days and providing additional logistics resources. But more is required. That's why we started talking to growers and buyers back in November. Nobody wants a repeat of last year and we can only achieve this if we work together as an industry. Together, therefore, we have discussed the various options. In the process, five options were discussed. We examined these together with growers and buyers for desirability and feasibility and/or lack thereof. We are now adding two of those measures to the overall package of measures for a successful peak period: Accelerated start for flowers, end sprint for plants & higher volumes per transaction.
Accelerated start for flowers, end sprint for plants (from 3 April)
We are accelerating the start of the distribution of flowers so that they are delivered at the end times as per the standard as often as possible. We do this by moving employees from Plants to Flowers at the start of the logistics process, and for as long as necessary to meet the standard time. They will start processing plants as soon as we see that end times are going to be met. After the flower process has been completed, a 'final sprint' at plants is initiated by deploying employees from flowers to plants. As a result, the plants are delivered more spread out across the same day. End times between noon and 2pm will be normal. On really busy days, we will deliver by 4pm at the latest. We expect this to occur only a few times. The forecast end times are listed here.
So good news for flower buyers at our auctions. But we recognise that besides opportunities for plant buyers to spread out their work, it also brings challenges and is not desirable for everyone. The same applies to transporters. We always like to work with you to come up with solutions. For example, auctioned CC containers we simply process immediately after auction.
An additional benefit of this measure is that we can offer more contract hours to some of the additional staff and that helps us attract extra staff. The labour shortage continues for now, and finding enough staff is a structural problem. Therefore, we will continue to operate in this manner beyond the peak period. Of course, we will evaluate and implement improvements in the interim.
Higher volumes per transaction (from 3 April)
Second, we will increase the purchase size per transaction (wider auctioning) without affecting pricing. We will deploy this measure during the peak period (April to June). There will be more higher volumes per transaction during the larger peak days than during quieter days. We basically start with the same minimum auction unit as normal, and raise the minimum auction unit faster to reduce the number of transactions. We aim to achieve 10-15% fewer transactions on busy days. This allows logistics to produce better results.
The higher volumes per transaction measure will be implemented for product groups where auctioneers consider it justified and also in limited quantities (and in consultation with FPS’s). It will affect niche/specialty products, for example, less than bulk products. To prevent buyers switching to the KVV (Auction Pre-Sales) for their small transactions, we are capping KVV purchases. Clock Presales are currently up to 50% of the total supply. We will reduce this percentage to avoid too many transactions. We will soon let you know exactly what that will look like.
We don't want to be taken by surprise and only together can we ensure a more successful peak period. Everyone benefits from finding the best form so that we can get through the peak together, in an acceptable way, while allowing trade to take place in full. With the total package of peak measures now in place, we believe we can deliver predictable logistics services, issues aside. That certainty is a definite improvement on last year. These measures, however, require adaptations by all of us. Let's all pull together on this.
Our customer contact colleagues are available to anyone with questions about the measures and to help where needed. We will also organise information sessions, and clearly communicate to all target groups in the coming period what exactly the additional measures will mean for businesses.
Impact on the grower: what does this mean for you?
Nothing will change for the supply of products. You can supply your products as usual. You may get reactions or questions from buyers or transporters, about plants delivered later or the process of auctioning at higher volumes per transaction. You can always refer them to our communications, customer contact centre or account management.
Impact on buyers: what does this mean for you?
Flowers will be received as much as possible within the standard times, well before the late peak times of 2022. As is the case now, you will find current forecasts and end times here.
Plants will be received later than you are used to, with end times between noon and 2pm on most peak days. On absolute peak days, we aim for 4pm as the latest delivery time. Current forecasts and end times can be found here. It may impact on your connecting processes and purchasing choices. We realise this poses challenges for some buyers. We are happy to work with you to find solutions. For example, auctioned CC containers we simply process immediately after auction. You can always get in touch with our customer contact centre or your account manager.
Impact on carriers: what does this mean for you?
Flowers are delivered within standard times as much as possible. Plants are delivered later, but no later than 4pm on busy days. You will receive the latest trolley later than usual as a result. Inter-branch journeys may shift to later in the day. That may potentially impact on journey planning. Current forecasts and end times can be found here.