Too many flowers or not enough?
Cut flowers once the exclusive domain of the traditional retail florist, continue to show up in more and more nontraditional outlets.
Supermarkets, convenient stores, road side stands, online, and maybe even dropped from the sky by a drone.
Wedding and event planners have become a category all on their own and have spawned wholesalers catering specifically to their needs.
Obviously the Internet has opened more doors than any other market influence over the last ten years and there is no telling where their market penetration will end.
There is little doubt that the mass marketers have taken a huge chunk of the cash and carry business. This is a great example of Global Trade at work.
Let’s review: 30 years ago there was a demand for high quality flowers in the US but the US growers were not able to meet all of it. So pioneers started looking for ideal places to grow them, where the climate, altitude, labor and politics were just right. Colombia and Ecuador fit right in, meeting all of these needs and with a Spanish speaking Miami as the closest port of entry it just made good sense to import flowers. As it turns out it made good business sense as well for many land owners eager to make more money from their land. So the farms grew in size and numbers in the 80’s from a handful to several hundred today.
All of this additional production started to outstrip demand and that had a dramatic affect on flower prices. More enterprising pioneers saw opportunity to take advantage of abundant flowers and looked for new venues to sell them.
The mass merchants were a very likely choice as they had everything needed to sell cash and carry flowers. Space, cashiers, ample parking, customer traffic and a million other items one might need. What they may have lacked (or still lack) in floral expertise they more than made up for with buying power and longer store hours. Clearly, with notable exceptions, these outlets are not providing “florist” services but simply the convenience of shopping.
Supermarkets do have some weaknesses. For one thing flowers are just another item that just happens to be more beautiful than, let’s say bananas. In most stores there is not much floral knowledge and what they have comes from watching bouquets working their way through the docks, counters and cashiers day after day. Second, they rely on creative solutions from vendors with pre-made arrangements or even single stem options but these are rarely as good as the florist made to order versions. Sort of like pizza from domino’s vs. your Uncle Mike’s kitchen or your favorite pizza joint! And lastly most don’t deliver or send flowers so florist must capitalize on these.
I suggest that to a large extent the traditional florist, more determined to sell arrangements than just flowers, handed this business to those other outlets. The traditional florist model changed and continues to change due to, among other things, technology, transportation and credit cards.
Those unable or unwilling to adapt are likely to fail leaving a hole in the creative aspect of what a florist really is. With that said most florist do a fantastic job of providing quality products that look great and will likely last longer than those sourced from the big box stores. Florists are artist and as such need to add value, creativity and a personal touch to a product to justify the extra dollars they must charge.
I am a woodworking artist and a musician so I am well aware that it is a challenge to get paid what you are really worth. However, there are consumers that want, and are willing to pay, to have something special. They are willing to pay more to stand in front of the artist and be wowed by the art within the craft
As I suggested earlier the root cause for flowers turning up in many nontraditional outlets was the result of overproduction or at least abundant production. I also suggest that this not necessarily the case any longer.
While there is still ample production, for the most part, there has not been any significant increase in the number of hectares (or acres) in South America production over the last 5-10 years.
We are often reminded of the shrinking number of US growers and in South America the number of farms has also been reduced. However, many of these farms have been acquired by larger companies.
With that said, one cannot ignore the increasing production in Africa, China, Mexico or even Cuba. As well, the Local floral movement is going to open the door for more “local” production of flowers here in the US.
In the end floral products will continue to find their way into the hands of consumers in traditional ways created by designers and in ways we have not even thought of yet. Good Luck.
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thank you for reading.