Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2005 (Revised August 2006)

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer

by Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Vincent Marie Dessain, Daniela Beyersdorfer and Anders Sjoman


The Dutch "Verenigde Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer Cooperative" (VBA) was on of the world's largest flower exchanges. Around 6,300 flower growers, one half of them located in the Netherlands, used the auction to sell cut flowers and plants to more than 1,000 wholesalers. In 2004, the value of the flowers and plants traded at Aalsmeer exceeded 1.6 billion euros, representing 36% of the world's trade in cut flowers. Every morning, VBA held 55,000 Dutch auctions to match buyers and suppliers. While formidable in size, VBA management worried about the future of the exchange because direct sales between growers and buyers had started to bypass the auction. Kenyan growers, for instance, often shipped roses directly to wholesalers. VBA's management considered a number of strategic initiatives and tactical moves in response to the growth in direct sales. Should the exchange allow non-Dutch growers to become members? Would it make sense to have the wholesalers bear a larger fraction of the trading cost? Philip Smits, CEO of VBA, knew that expanding VBA membership and adjusting trading commissions were guaranteed to be hotly contested topics at the upcoming general meeting.

Keywords: Auctions; Bids and Bidding; Trade; Market Entry and Exit; Financial Markets; Segmentation; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Netherlands;


Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, Vincent Marie Dessain, Daniela Beyersdorfer, and Anders Sjoman. "Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer." Harvard Business School Case 706-441, December 2005. (Revised August 2006.)