International Floral Expo, New Orleans 2014
As you entered the main hall it was obvious that this was a flower show as most were humans were shivering from the cold in the building. Being a veteran of many a floral show I was prepared with an extra layer of clothing… and I was still cold. Gotta keep the flowers cold!
Once inside I was greeted by the warm embrace of old friends and lots of flowers in many very impressive displays. This show had been held in Miami for the last several years, where it was well attended, but it was time for a change and I think the Big Easy was a good choice.
However, noticeably absent from these shows are some of the biggest players in the mass market namely The Queens Flowers, Falcon Farms, Natures Flowers and Passion Growers. These giants prefer to spend their marketing funds on local private shows specifically for their main accounts. As a result some of the largest buyers were absent as well. (Walmart, Kroger)
These Mass Market shows historically have a low body count when it comes to buyers. The halls are never full except for the vendors themselves. What you do see are small pod of buyers diligently flowing their leader from booth to booth. The main buyer is often surrounded by their underlings, much like a male deer surrounded by its protective females.
Vendors patiently wait for their anticipated pod to arrive and hope that they arrive when they are not talking to other potential clients. If you are a small buyer expect to be politely kicked out of a booth if the Roundy’s buyers are heading in your direction.
Like all of these shows it only takes one or two good contacts to make it all worth the effort and cost. And true to form in my informal polling about 50% said the show was good and the other 50% said it was not. Many vendors asked me if I thought it was worth attending and while they have to make that call, I have always said a buyer might notice that your company is not represented even if they do not stop at your booth.
This show offers quite a variety of vendors from fresh cuts to balloons and from Christmas trees to preservatives. Many asked me if I saw anything new. Orchids are no longer new but they are certainly the largest new product line. There were many Asian growers showing them and nearly all of the Phalaenopsis variety. Over the last few shows I have also seen many booth showing succulents. Both potted and stems for bouquet work. Love the look of them and each time I see them on display they get more and more exotic.
I did get some interesting news from Jardines De Los Andes. This well respected Colombian grower has historically been the source behind Gardens America for Wholesale and Natures Flowers for the Mass Market. However Gardens America now also serves the mass market and things are changing fast. It appears that Natures flowers has decided to go their own way and as a result Jardines is now supplying the mass markets via new vendors like Gems, World Class and others. From my perspective this is a great move for Jardines as the market moves from just selling flowers to marketing floral concepts. These new outlets are leading the way with new concepts and fresh eyes. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over time.
If I had to use one word to describe the show it would be “color”. The art of dying, painting and airbrushing flowers has taken on grand proportions based on what was being shown. My experience has always been that customers either loved these or hated them strongly. However, the vendors are getting much better at making tinted flowers look realistic, if that is possible or even desireable. Certainly popular right now with themed World Cup Soccer colors.
Finally this show like many is co-locating with United Fresh Produce show in Chicago in an attempt to bring more buyers and sellers together. Since many of the key players in Produce happen to also be the decision makers for floral this co-location idea makes sense. Mark your calendars for June 9 through 11-2015 at McCormick Place.
William “Williee” Armellini
Editor of Flowersandcents.com