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The export value of Dutch flowers and plants climbed to a highest-ever total of 5.4 billion euros ($7.19 billion in U.S. dollars) in 2012.

That total represents a 3 percent increase over the previous year’s export value, the Dutch Agricultural Wholesale Board/Flowers and Plants reported. The organization is located near the flower auction in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands, and its report appeared in mid-January in the newsletter of Florint, the international florist association.

Trade was particularly uneven, strong in the first half of 2012, then descending into a slow but steady slump in the last half. December was especially weak in sales, with traders experiencing a 13 percent drop, in part because the month had three fewer trade days than in 2011.

Cut flower sales were up 3 percent in export value, slightly outselling potted and garden plants, which had sales up 2 percent. Geographically, the east and north of Europe performed strongly while sales to southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece) kept falling severely. Germany led in total sales, and had an increase of 5 percent over 2011, followed by England with a 6 percent sales increase, but lower total sales than Germany.