Here’s how technology changed the iconic way the Dutch sell their flowers

How the flower markets blossomed ๐ŸŒบ

Somewhere in the Dutch city of Aalsmeer, you’ll find a warehouse that holds the title of one of the biggest commercial buildings in the WORLD.

What takes place in this humongous 800 metre by 500 metre building, you ask? The Dutch flower trade.

Home to Royal FloraHolland, a cooperation born out of a merger between multiple flower auctions, this building is responsible for about 40% of the world’s exports of flowers and plants. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

A blast from the past: the flower auction room

Now, this place used to be famous not just for its unparalleled efficiency but also for the unique way flowers were sold there โ€” in auctions.

Historically, the Royal FloraHolland grounds had big auditorium-like rooms in which hundreds of flower buyers would sit down to look at flowers โ€” and attempt to buy them at the lowest possible price.

How did it work? Racks of flowers were paraded in front of the buyers, as Tom Scott explains in his YouTube video, while a big auction clock at the front of the room would count from a high price down to a low price.

photo-of-auction-clocks-at-dutch-flower-markets-in-almere
Stock market? Nah, flower market. Image: Druifkes/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The first person to stop the clock by pressing a button in their seat got to buy the flowers โ€” for a high price if they pressed too early, or not at all if someone else beat them to it. ๐Ÿคท

This innovative Dutch flower auction room was not just a spectacular sight, but also famous around the world.

Eventually, the analogue clocks were replaced by digital ones. A few years later, the auction rooms closed down for good โ€” but why? You guessed it: technology.

Modern-day solutions: flower auctions are now remote

At the end of the 2010s, flower buyers left the famous flower auction rooms in Aalsmeer for the last time. Flower auctions as we knew them were over, but they’re not completely gone.

As with many things, digitisation made flower auctions much easier (but also a little sadder): Instead of having to come together in a big auction room, buyers can now buy their flowers in online auctions. ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

READ MORE | The ultimate guide to tulip season in the Netherlands in 2024

Via the wonders of the internet, the in-house auctioneers run 35 clocks at the same time, where some 2,500 buyers from around the world can snag deals on some original Nederlandse bloemen (Dutch flowers).

But it’s not just casino-like fun; nowadays, the Dutch flower auction turns over billions of euros each year โ€” and is a massive player in the Dutch economy.

Did you know about the Dutch flower auctions? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Feature Image:Depotisphotos
Lyna Meyrer ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ
Lyna Meyrer ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ
Say 'hoi' to Lyna, our Senior Writer at DutchReview! Fueled by a love for writing, social media, and all things Dutch, she joined the DR family in 2022. Since making the Netherlands her home in 2018, she has collected a BA in English Literature & Society (Hons.) and an RMA in Arts, Literature and Media (Hons.). Even though she grew up just a few hours away from the Netherlands, Lyna remains captivated by the guttural language, quirky culture, and questionable foods that make the Netherlands so wonderfully Dutch.

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