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Italian family’s flowers bloom thanks to free movement of goods

In Foggia, where unemployment is 15%, the trucks heading for the ‘Wall Street of flowers’ in Amsterdam are evidence of a European success story

Whether you buy a rose from a boutique in Barcelona, a store in Manchester or a florist in Copenhagen, it’s probably Italian. Puglian, to be precise.

In the Foggia region, where unemployment stands at 15%, Ciccolella is thriving. It is one of just four southern businesses in the Italian stock exchange out of 300, a family business started in the 1960s by farmers Paolo and Mariantonia Ciccolella. After rapid expansion of district heated greenhouses at Candela from 2004, Ciccolella bought three Dutch rivals specialising in logistics and trading.

Now the group has an office in the Netherlands by the entrance to the most important market in the sector – the “Wall Street of flowers”. Each year, it produces nearly 400m flowers, sells 7m anthuriums and is the leading European producer of roses.

Candela is now the biggest flower cultivation site in Europe. More than 40% of the produce goes through Europe. Open borders and free movement of goods and services mean produce can be trucked competitively to Amsterdam.

“The prices are high,” says Vincenzo Ciccolella, one of four sons now running the business, “if you think that the roses imported from Kenya on cargo ships cost just two cents more.”

How can they continue to be competitive? “We are trying to offer customers what they want,” says Vincenzo. “We have 40 types of anthurium on sale and 25 varieties of roses. Our research and development department is constantly combining various types to satisfy clients’ demands: fewer thorns on the stem or more scent, a facet of clipped roses that’s almost forgotten about.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds