Covid and The Flower World
We find ourselves in an interesting and somewhat challenging position this year moving towards Mother’s Day here in Victoria BC, the “flower capital” of Canada.
We are normally swimming in gorgeous, plentiful and relatively cost-effective blooms for this, the biggest of all floral holidays. But this year looks a little different, for a variety of reasons.
First to explain a bit about how the flower world operates. We function on a reverse auction system, which means, in simple terms, that when buying blooms at the global flower auctions, one of which is in Vancouver BC, the prices start high, and as the clock ticks down, so do the prices. So, if the demand is high, –which it currently is, but we will get into that in a bit—then the brokers buy high to get the product, passing this price from the farmer eventually down to the consumer- you. This is why flowers go for more at Valentine’s day and Mothers’ Day and why white flowers are at a premium during wedding season etc.
Last year, when Covid-19 hit the global flower market was devastated. You may have seen the images of bulldozers pushing huge piles of flowers off the auction room floors and into enormous compost piles. Millions of blooms were destroyed because there was no market demand. 70-80% of the Dutch flower market was destroyed. Sadly, after the initial shut down many of these companies did go bankrupt.
After the global market collapsed, growers still struggled. There just weren’t human hands available to plant the next seasons crops as everyone was in lockdown around the world. And without the seeds and bulbs in the ground the next season carried with it more strife and struggle. Add to this the extreme weather patterns in growing areas since December of 2020 as well as farms downsizing production in anticipation of a lowered demand (boy were they wrong) and we have the perfect storm.
You see, demand didn’t stop, in fact it increased, quite dramatically. As people couldn’t celebrate birthdays and milestones together, sending flowers became the next best thing. But it also burdened a struggling industry. With fewer growers, less hands planting, and a now higher demand placed on what is available, the market prices have soared and that leaves us, the florists, doing some explaining. There are a few other factors to take into account for rising floral prices as well. Increased freight rates as passenger flights have not been allowed and\or cutbacks in flights, freight aircrafts prioritizing PPE and vaccinations over perishable cargo, the per capita consumption of florals increasing and small farms not being able to weather the covid storm.
This has led us to now, leading up to Mother’s Day 2021. One year later and we, in the flower world, are still fighting the fight, to keep beautiful blooms available to consumers at the most reasonable prices possible. When you look around our beautiful city there appears to be so many gorgeous flowers. Unfortunately, all those blooms you see in gardens aren’t grown for commercial consumption. Don’t I wish they were!
Right now, more than ever we, as humans, need a little more beauty and joy in the world. We need to be able to feel some human connection with our loved ones, even if it is from a social distance. One of the best ways I can think of is to send flowers to brighten a dark time in the world. The best solution to the problem at the moment is to buy early! If you haven’t put your order in with your florist for Mother’s Day – do it today!
We, at Foxgloves Flowers, are doing our best, to grow what we can, here on the property, support other local growers and grower families, and keep our dollars in our community. While that is all said, our prices will have to go up to accommodate a changing world. Hopefully this time next year things will be back to something that resembles normal.