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Dutch Agriculture and the Global Tulip Trade

The Netherlands is famous for its agriculture, specifically its tulips. These beautiful flowers are grown across the country in huge numbers to be sold to and beloved across the world. The country exported over €92 billion worth of agriculture in 2017 - second only to the USA - with tulip flowers and bulbs making up a large portion.

The flower market in the Netherlands consists of growers, wholesalers, and retailers. Selling flowers is a difficult process due to the fragility of the product itself. Cut flowers must be kept cool and moist without being overly wet, and they need to be shipped quickly before they begin to wilt. Potted tulips are also commonly sold, requiring adequate temperatures and moisture during transport, along with gentle handling to avoid bruising. Tulip bulbs also require careful transport to avoid both damage and premature sprouting of the bulb.

Tulips and bulbs shipped internationally require additional care in transport. The logistics of cut and potted flower transportation on an international scale can be immensely daunting. Not only is safety of the product essential, but the boarder restrictions on plants can be significant. A large and complex network of logistics and transportation providers and experts are in place in the Netherlands to help ensue the success of their tulip exports.

Did you know that tulips are highly regarded and prized in many cultures around the world, and some even consider them sacred? The tulip flower originated in Asia where it has historically been prized for both beauty and resiliency. Upon spreading to Europe tulips became immensely popular, creating ‘tulip mania’ among the wealthy citizens of many European countries. Still today, tulips are highly prized and valued throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

Canada also has a special relationship with tulips from the Netherlands. Following World War II, Canada was gifted 10,000 bulbs by the Dutch Royal Family for our help in sheltering Queen Juliana and her family during the war. Since then, Canada has received 20,000 bulbs per year as a reminder of this unique bond. These tulips began the Canadian Tulip Festival held each year in Ottawa, which today displays over 1 million tulips from around the world. For our 150th anniversary as a country, the Netherlands sent specially created bulbs which bloomed a red and white flowers, reminiscent of the Canadian flag.

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