I am been following a number of discussions on Facebook regarding the shortage of flowers that many find themselves in. Some say that the many South American growers have switched from growing flowers to produce for higher returns. I have found no evidence of this and while I am sure there are some examples to be found it is NOT the reason for the current flower shortage.
After talking to a number of importers and growers I think the reason is more complicated than that.
This is what I learned.
A. The demand for flowers is high and since the very cold winter has finally warmed up people are coming out of hibernation and want color in their homes.
B. The natural timing of the holidays has left many growers without production for Mothers Day. Every few years we see this happen when there are not enough days between Valentines, Easter and Mothers day. This year Easter was 21 days later than 2013. Add in a lot of cloudy rainy days and the result can be not enough flowers left for the Mothers Day demand.
C. Finally we see that there really is the proverbial 900 pound gorilla in the room. Large farms have been buying up small and large farms at an alarming rate. Most of these large farms service the mass markets and as a result the production has moved from the traditional channels (grower, importer, wholesaler, retailer) to the grower, bouquet maker to the mass market.
Buyers at all levels have over the years become used to having plenty of sourcing options and are hesitant to book big numbers for holidays assuming that the prices will fall as the holidays gets closer. This is one of those times when this was a bad idea. Open market prices are nearly double pre-book prices but even then there is little supply to fill the void. So now nearly everyone is scrambling.
By William “Williee” Armellini