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    Flowering in Hong Kong
    Cut flowers
    China’s cut flower industry began in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong in 1984.

    Hong Kong is only the fifteenth largest import market for cut flowers in the world, but it is one of the most dynamic.

    By Christine Brown-Paul & Photos Sam Ross

    Flowers have always been a part of the Chinese culture since at least seven different types of flowers represents a strong meaning in the culture. They represent natural nectar that brings growth, fulfilment and new, prosperous beginnings to lives. In Fen Shui, many flowers are said to bring good fortune and success because healthy flowering plants manifest good Chi or energy.

    With rising living standards and the expansion of the middle class, imports of horticultural products in China have also increased considerably in recent years. Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly selective regarding the quality and variety of products offered to them. Due to the low technology and limited knowledge of the culture, farmers are still contributing to enhancing the horticulture sector. With the support of local government, many companies are now investing in this industry. Moreover, one of the current priorities of the Chinese government is to increase the food supply, the food security and raise the level of income of the farmers.

    Cut flower growth
    Cut flower growth in China

    China’s cut flower industry began in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong in 1984. During the next 12 years, cut flower production grew steadily, and developed more quickly after 1990. The main reasons for this growth are: a) the consumption of cut flowers which has increased due to an increase in the standard of living and the rapid development of the tourist industry; and b) growers can gain relatively high profits from growing cut flowers. For example, the annual profit is US$18,750-65,625 per ha from cut flower cultivation, as compared to US$11,250 per ha from vegetable cultivation.

    The main location for flower production in China is located in the province of Yunnan. Decades ago people would only be able to find undeveloped small villages in that area. However, since the agreement with the International Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of the ‘90s, Chinese flower producers have been trained and learned several techniques in order to compete with the global competition of the flower industry. The sector has developed rapidly with the growth of the economic development and the rise of Chinese people’s incomes. In 2015, China is valued at more than $11 billion, according to China Horticultural Business Services.

    China flower market
    China flower market

    In 2013, around 800,000 farmers in Yunnan province grew flowers on 70,000 hectares of land, and the industry employed more than 3.5 million people in 2014. Asia is already the most important market in terms of Chinese producers. However, their direct exportations, as well as the re-exportations through the Dutch market of Aalsmeer, reach the entire world.

    Currently, cut flowers are grown almost all over the country, from Hainan in the South to Heilongjiang in the North, and from Shandong in the East to Xinjiang in the West. From a small start in 1987, commercial cut flower production in Yunnan Province grew at a higher speed than in any other area in China, moving this Province into number one position.

    China flower types
    Hong Kong consumers buy many different types of flowers.

    There are more than 30 cut flower species which are commercially grown in China, including Alstroemeria aurantiaca, Anemone, Antirrhinum, Asparagus, Anthurium, Calendula officinalis, Calla, Callistephus chinensis, Carnation, Centaurea cyanus, Chimonanthus praecox, Chrysanthemum, Dianthus barbatus, Freesia, Gladiolus, Gypsophila, Gerbera, Heliconia, Hippeastrum, Lilium, Lisianthus, Limonium, Moluccella, Orchids, Peony, Pulsatilla chinensis, Prunus persica, Prunus mume, Ranunculus, Rose, Salix leucopithecia, Solidago, Sunflower, Tagetes patula, and Tulip.

    Growers can be divided into five categories: a) state farms or companies; b) collective farms; c) private farms; d) Sino-foreign country joint ventures; e) foreign companies. Due to the nature of constantly expanding activities, it is difficult to obtain official statistical figures regarding China’s cut flower industry.

    More than 90% of the cut flowers produced in China are consumed within China. The cut flowers are sold through wholesale and retail distribution channels. At present, there are 670 cut flower markets and 7,000 flower shops across the country, and seven regional whole sale markets, which have been established in Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Guangzhou, Fujian, Chengdu and Liaoning. The major consumption areas are Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang and Guangdong. The majority of the flower shops are located in these areas. In 1996, 260 million stems of cut flowers were consumed with about 20 stems per capita in Shanghai, and 100 million stems were consumed with about 10 stems per capita in Beijing.

    China orchids
    China girl with orchids

    Marketing cut flowers in Hong Kong

    Hong Kong is only the fifteenth largest import market for cut flowers in the world, but it is one of the most dynamic.

    During 1986-89, the total value of flower imports in Hong Kong doubled in value, reaching almost $14.7 million. The main source for these imports is The Netherlands, which provides about one-third of the total, followed by Malaysia (14% of the total in 1989), Thailand (10%), Singapore (9%), Colombia (9%) and New Zealand (5%).

    World imports of floricultural products came close to US$5 billion in 1989, with cut flowers alone accounting for more than $2.5 billion. The share of developing countries in the flower market is considerable and amounted to more than 21% of the total traded internationally that year. Although the major import markets for floricultural products are countries in Western Europe and North America, several other markets also offer attractive prospects. Among these are Japan and Hong Kong, which are particularly interesting for suppliers in the Asian region. Both markets are expected to grow in the next several years.

    Hong Kong consumers buy many different types of flowers. Traditional species are the most popular: roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, gypsophila and orchids. Other types are also in considerable demand, such as freesias, statice, gladioli, alstroemerias, solidasters and anthuriums. Peonies and lotus are some of the flowers that are the most requested for special events.

    The most popular colour in Hong Kong for roses is red, followed by pink, yellow and white. About half of all carnations bought are pink, with red, dark pink, yellow and white sold in smaller quantities.

    At the Hong Kong Flower Market in Mongkok – Hong Kong’s premier destination for cut flowers – both cut flowers and growing plants are to be found in the shops on Flower Market Road, while some shops specialise in a particular type or even in a specific genus such as orchids or roses, the majority offer a range of different types seasonally.

    The Hong Kong Flower Market in Mongkok is an oasis of blooms featuring a riot of colour and brimming with fragrant blooms, bonsai trees, fresh cut flower, exotic plants and an abundance of foliage.

    Originally a wholesale market for the city’s florists, this street, which has been renamed Flower Market Road, is a top tourist attraction and a great place to pick up affordable orchid hybrids. Over 50 plant stores compete for the trade of both locals and tourists.

    Discerning customers browse stall after stall of flowers and flower products, including a variety of dried flowers, seeds, gardening tools, pots, accessories, fertilisers, insecticides, and fungicides. Decorative soil substitutes that look like crystals are also available, which combined with clear glass planters, make for impressive tabletop displays.

    During the many festivals such as Chinese New Year and Christmas, shops also display special floral arrangements and decorations. Here, shoppers find orchids, bougainvillea, sunflowers as well as many types of house and garden plants, locally grown flowers, shrubs and trees, which transform this city block into a secret garden.

    Despite its modernity and the young generation of consumers who buy floral products here, the market pays homage to centuries-old Chinese cultural traditions.

    “In the lead-up to Chinese New Year, things really get busy here as families flock to the marker to choose greenery that attracts good luck and fortune as a new lunar cycle begins,” said one floral seller.

    “Chinese buyers have definite preferences and observe many cultural traditions. For example, white flowers are not usually used since it is associated with death for the Chinese. “ Ω

    (Full story and images January/February 2018 – Issue 186)

    PH&G January/February 2018 – Issue 186

    source: https://www.hydroponics.com.au/flowering-in-hong-kong/

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