Kopers-en-Kwekers Blog

VDE Plant: 'Horticulture is sustainable, we need to highlight that'

4 Minuten 
Gepost op 02-02-2023
door Karin Wangko

With Intenz, VDE Plant aims to market a brand that inspires and contributes to a healthy, green lifestyle. We sit down with co-owner Karin van Eijk (cultivation and new business) and Sven Bakker (sales) from VDE Plant to talk about the family business, Intenz and their marketing strategy.

With 175,000 plants a week over 9 ha, there is a lot of activity at VDE Plant. In its 75 years of existence, the company went through many phases: after starting in vegetables, they switched to roses, and then made the decision to go for potted plants in the 1980s: now their product range includes coffee plants, Clusia, Philondendron, hydroponics and special gift items.

Increase or downsize supply?

Karin: "Whereas about 20 years ago we supplied about 95% of our product on the clock, now it is only about 15%. The rest go via direct sales." These are turbulent times for the industry, and so too for VDE Plant. Sven: "During the COVID pandemic, . Eventually, sales took off. We had to work extremely hard not to have to sell "no". Then, when the war broke out in Ukraine, we were left with our products: there was no outlet. Now, stable sales and pricing seems to be returning."

VDE Plant enjoys working with major retailers such as Intratuin and Ranzijn. Sven: "Those kinds of fixed sales lines are very important. You know what you can depend on. These kinds of customers also order entire tables with our products, for example. This not only gives our products more of a stage, it also inspires consumers.

In de kassen bij VDE Plant

Between the trolleys

"We work here with an excellent, mixed bunch of people aged 21-65," Sven says. "We all go for it together, in busy periods you will also find me between the trolleyss on the floor.
"That's the great thing about VDE Plant, we really do it together and despite the fact that it is sometimes very busy we always make time for a chat or a laugh. Most people have been working here for years and thankfully want to stay here!" 

Sustainability in the spotlight

Sustainable and socially responsible cultivation is a must for VDE Plant, as is automation. For more than 20 years, they have been making their terracotta growing pots from almost 100 per cent recycled material, capturing rainwater, reusing water and using waste products from their combined heat and power plants. Sven: "Did you know that 10% of the available energy in the Netherlands is generated sustainably by growers? This is such a positive side to horticulture, but one that is not well-known. It would be nice if we could bring this more into the limelight for the general public from across the industry."

VDE Plant does pest control organically as much as possible. "There is an increasing demand from buyers for this. Certificates such as GRASP, and soon footprint calculation, are becoming increasingly important. Besides being good for the environment, biological control also improves plant resilience. Moreover, we think it is important for the health of our own staff to use as few chemicals as possible," Karin says.

In front of the camera

VDE Plant has been working hard in recent years to reach their audience through various means. In addition to having their air-purifying and hydroponic products appear in programmes such as De Grote Tuinverbouwing and Vara's Groen Licht, they were at the VT Wonen trade show and actively maintain a YouTube channel. Karin: "We use the channel to present our product and give an insight into our business, but also to educate customers. For example, we also made a video about organic pest control, to explain how it works and familiarise customers with it."

From articles to concepts

Karin: "Our buyers still find us under the name VDE Plant. But consumers now search on Intenz. Our website can therefore now be found under that name." VDE does not "just display" its products on the site, but classifies them by collection. Whether visitors are looking for more tranquillity in their homes or energy, they have suitable concepts with a choice of plants to go with them. VDE Plant tests new concepts in their own on-site concept store.

Software package is linked via the Floriday API

VDE Plant works in conjunction with Floriday. Via SDF Horti Software and the Floriday API link and via the Floriday screens. Sven: "We are fans of this way of working. In Floriday, customers can see our supply in real time and order quickly via the Explorer or the shop. This saves us a lot of time if you compare it to before. We were the first to get a CheckUp from you as well, which was very helpful. Meanwhile, we use various features such as My Store, contracts, customer-specific and general offers and Direct Bidding. Handling is then automated again through SDF."

"Visibility for our products through Floriday"

Sven: "In order to reach buyers with our products, our presence on Floriday is important, and in addition to that, going to see the buyer with the products we have is still essential. Buyers want to be able to see in real life what they are buying. We visit buyers, but we also invite them to the garden. We are still sorting out how we can showcase ourselves even more at Floriday: our focus on sustainability, our concepts. We are going to give this an even better place within the platform."

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