Have ever wondered where did your tulips come from? Well, most dutch flowers such as amaryllis, kangaroo paws, and gerbera daisies are grown in¬†Holland. In the Netherlands, the famed Aalsmeer Auction is where half of the world’s flowers and bought and sold.

The Aalsmeer Auction has been around since the early 20th century. The flowers are housed in a warehouse that is two million square meters. Buyers from all over gather to bid on flowers for the best lowest price. Before the auction begins at 6 a.m., buyers get a chance to visit the cooling rooms to inspect the flowers that will be auctioned.

Dutch Auction Clock

Dutch Auction Clock (source: www.amystewart.com)

How Does the Dutch Auction Work?

At the facility, an auction clock is displayed overhead and a starting price is displayed. The price decreases until the first buyer pushes a button bidding the lowest price. The auctioneer will then ask the buyer how many buckets he or she will purchase at that price. Then the auction continues with the rest of the flower lots.

Technology and Dutch Flower Auction

Today, technology has changed the traditional way of auctioning. Buyers with a license can¬†participate remotely from their computers. Many of the flowers never make it to the auction warehouse, in efforts to reduce carbon footprint and ship directly instead. Improvements to the digital bidding platform allows buyers to see photos, and a description of the length, size and condition of the flowers.¬†The demand for flowers is such that most flowers are already sold before they’re even grown and harvested. This is usually the case around busy holidays in the industry like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

The Future of the Dutch Flower Industry

At Wageningen University near Amsterdam, researchers are working on ways to reduce energy and labor costs. They are testing containers that would store flowers for weeks at near-freezing temperatures. This method would allow flowers to be shipped by boat instead of planes.