Exporting new flower varieties: How to acquire a VBN product code?

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Almost 20,000 different plants and flowers are traded by name at the Dutch flower auctions, each identified with their own product code. On average, 20,000 new products enter the market each year. The codes are used in every transaction concluded at the auction. Financial and logistical handling by the auctions is based on the product code system.

The product codes are initially used by the parties involved in trading through the auctions: growers, purchasing traders and the auctions themselves. Product codes can also be used to identify or communicate about a product throughout the chain, from processor to retailer. The current product code database for cut flowers, house plants and garden plants can be found on the FlorEcom site.

Would you like to receive assistance in acquiring a product code? ProVerde has experience in all aspects of introducing new floricultural products on the European market: registration, market introduction, promotion.

Terms and procedures for coding
Product codes are issued and administered by the VBN. Product codes are assigned on request if the terms set out by the VBN are fulfilled.

A product is eligible for a VBN product code when the following requirements are met:
1.  the product must be registered;
2.  the product must be natural. In principle, codes are issued only for living plants and flowers;
3.  the product must meet the VBN product specifications applicable to the relevant product;
4.  the expected supply of the product at the auction in the first year must be more than the stated minimum supply for the relevant product group;
5.  the product does not have a product code yet (a product can have only one product code);
6.  the applicant gives the VBN and its members permission to auction the product under the name in question and to carry it in its/their administration and product information. The applicant also holds the VBN and its members harmless for any claims by third parties regarding intellectual property rights.

If the stated requirements are not met, no specific product code will be assigned. The product can then be offered under the designation ‘other’, with the corresponding code.

If a product code already has an item code assigned by the Beurshal foundation (a 5-digit code between 30,000 and 60,000, or greater than 90,000), the product will have the same code in the VBN product code system.

Product registration
A VBN product code can be requested only if the product has been registered. Registration is done by the VKC (Permanent Judging Committee). Tree nursery products that already have a Beurshal foundation item code are considered already registered.

Registration with VKC
Products can be presented to the VKC for registration on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. A grower must present at least three plants or flowers in a representative quality to the VKC. Before this is done, the digital registration form must be completed. The form can be found on the VKC website. The VKC will create a standardized image and description of the product on registration. The VKC will also compare the information to the international nomenclature rules and record the information in Plantscope®, the VKC database. The information can be viewed at www.plantscope.nl, among other places. Furthermore, the images are available from the VKC for a fee.

Growers are advised to bear in mind when naming a product that the name, including the variety name, will be abbreviated to about 20 positions on the clock front.

Sources: VBN, VKC, Plantscope