Coronavirus is not just proving fatal for humans but its impact has even sucked the life of the flower industry across the globe, as the lockdown measures have turned main places into ghost towns. As this deadly virus spread, the rules are increasing manifolds, including grounded flights, shuttered restaurants and hotels, and social distancing.
Not just that, but it has also destroyed the sales of flowers among others. From the Netherlands to Kenya and Ecuador, the major distributors of flowers are growing through hard times. Also, major losses are happening in places like the popular flower auction sites of the Netherlands, where there used to be over 100,000 transactions on average.
Due to coronavirus, the flower industry has lost an estimated $8.5 billion already. Because of the strict lockdown measures, various wedding houses have been shut and people are not stepping out for shopping due to the risk involved. Also, people are not consuming anything but essentials due to the fear of bringing anything from outside to their homes. As a result, growers are unable to conduct their flower business. Now, let’s find out how different countries are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
How Are Major Distributors Dealing with the Pandemic?
Major distributors from the Netherlands to Kenya have been left with no option than throwing away their flowers in the absence of consumers as people continue to cancel ceremonies, weddings, and other events with large gatherings. If the pressure of the pandemic on the flower sector keeps on increasing for over two months, many florists will have to opt for closures.
However, many countries have re-opened florist shops and garden centers, ahead of many retail outlets. This shows how essential services garden retailers offer. A safer environment is an amazing boost for the floral industry.
Flower retailers are adhering strictly to the new normal of disinfecting, contactless payments, and social distancing. All of these measures are vital to demonstrate a responsible global industry. However, around 78% still think that sales to be worse for this period than last year. On the other hand, 46% expect the demand for flowers and plants to be higher than the previous year in the upcoming weeks. So, there is a ray of optimism amid the coronavirus pandemic as many retailers are getting back to recover some of the sales lost during the pandemic.
The impact fluctuates by sector of course, where ones with flexible sales windows adapt to the new shift in the demand pattern more quickly. This is likely to result in stock shortages of the respondent countries by 48 percent.
A survey conducted, where 27 countries participated, showed that 78% of the responded countries have financial support mechanisms from the government to support this industry. Also, 44% have access to support by paying staff wages, 33% have access to reimbursement for lost sales, and 59% have access to dedicated support loans. However, only some countries have offered financial support focused explicitly on the requirements of flower growers.
Europe is the heart of the global flower business. It accounted for over 40 percent of the flower exports in the world until the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. When we talk about Europe, only the Netherlands offers a unique package for planters where businesses could make claims for about 70% of turnover lost if the sales were down by 30 percent last year in the same period.
The governments of South Korea and Taipei have provided extra funding to reduce auction fees and support advertising campaigns for florists. In many countries, growers continue to ask their governments for a powerful relief package but with no or little hope.
Despite this, 22% of the respondent countries do not have any support mechanisms. In such countries, including underdeveloped flower producing countries, this outlook is very bleak. That’s why there are real worries along with a prospective global recession lingering.
What’s the Future of the Flower Industry?
Talking about the future, respondents still hold out hope for regrowth that had been slowly coming. Among all, 80% of these growers expect to have an increase in online flower sales, which have been the only and best way to purchase plants and flowers over some months in many countries.
As people have become aware of this new way to buy ornamentals, many will follow up on this channel in the future too. Around 33% are expecting to have increased vertical integration in this sector. Thus, there will be a reduction in the number of players involved in this supply chain. Also, another 56% assume to have a decrease in staffing by flower growers and 30% think that there will be a reduction in the imported goods to benefit domestic production.
Also, grower associations have proved their value during this pandemic. They have been playing a significant role in putting the case of flower growers to the government. Around 59% think that this crisis has enhanced the appreciation of the trade associations’ value.
A new survey conducted by the Flora Culture International (FCI) and International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) of the grower associations and international growers shows about 71% of the flower industry believes that many growers will recover soon after the pandemic crisis.
So, many growers are really struggling across the globe this year due to coronavirus. Support from the government is essential for their survival. However, in many countries, growers are not getting any support from their governments. On the other hand, it is good to see optimism returning back as florists seek to meet the demands of new waves of interest in plants and flowers. Also, a renewed appreciation of the plants’ and flowers’ value to happy and healthy lives.
Also, with the potential end of the pandemic, people are going to rush for getting married and staging long-overdue gatherings that they were missing, which could turn as a boom for the flower industry. The flower sector will boom like anything when the business begins to open up again.