The supply of flowers is short around the world. This is how it happened

The pictures of the flowers in the trash still haunt florists. In 2020, when much of the world is closed because of the pandemic, many of the crops grown by flower farms have been removed. Since no one knows what will happen, new crops are not planted as usual.

Currently, due to pandemic-related supply chain challenges, labor shortages and bad weather conditions in key growing regions, there is a global shortage of fresh flowers, especially in Flowers are grown for events such as weddings.

Bob Conti, a partner of Ed Libby’s Facts, a floral design firm in Hackensack, NJ “We will discover that there are no white flowers, or that special roses are not available. There is no way to get it. People can’t get containers, floral tape, utensils, or even colored candles. No one can promise everything in advance. Is crazy. Just crap. ”

Mr. Conti has worked in the events-focused flower industry for 30 years and says he has never seen such a shortage of ingredients. Many florists across the country say they are seeing the same thing.

Rishi Patel, executive director and creative director at HMR Designs, an event producer in Chicago. Mr. Patel said that in the past, if there was no product, it was usually a natural disaster in a deserted area. His team can often find what they need elsewhere, just at a higher cost. But that is not the case now.

“What we are facing right now is the abrupt shutdown of the entire flower world,” said Mr. Patel.

It coincided with a boom in weddings, in which many couples spent thousands of dollars on flowers. This year, about 2.5 million weddings are expected to take place in the United States, by trade group Wedding Newspaper; As a result, Mr. Conti estimates that it could take up to 2023 for the business to function as it did before the pandemic.

“The wedding season is about to start again so there are still many difficulties,” he said. “Perhaps we’ve had to get through a new year from some stability.”

The fresh flower business involves a complex supply chain that, although complex, was able to operate almost seamlessly before the pandemic.

Most flowers sold in the United States come from the Netherlands, Colombia, Ecuador, and Kenya, all of which are considered major growing regions. For example, the majority of wedding roses worldwide come from Ecuador, and the Netherlands is the largest producer of peonies. While there are flower farms in the United States, they tend to specialize in rarer varieties because they cannot compete with the yields produced by growers in other parts of the world, or the lower prices they pay. count.

Flowers used at events are different from flowers sold at grocery stores or online retailers. The so-called event flowers are bred with higher quality, reaching peak bloom on the day of the event. These flowers are usually harvested by hand about 10 days before the wedding, which is the time it takes to fully bloom.

Grocery store flowers are meant to last longer and are harvested earlier so the petals stay tightly closed and don’t pop out before purchase. But many times, they never fully open, which is why they are of no use to most wedding florists.

After the fresh flowers are harvested, they are auctioned and sold at the market to wholesalers, who pack and transport them via trucks and airplanes, always under temperature control, to warehouses and stores. other distribution points around the world. From there, they are sent to businesses like Mr. Conti’s and Mr. Patel’s or to smaller local markets like the flower districts of Los Angeles and New York.

For weddings, many florists take a hybrid approach to sourcing. Most of the flowers used are event flowers, purchased directly from wholesalers to ensure the required quantity and type of flowers. They are then supplemented with specific flowers used for small arrangements, bouquets and other accents that florists buy at local flower markets a few days before an event.

For decades when the process has remained reliable, florists like Mr. Conti can discuss floral designs with clients a year in advance and introduce arrangements six to eight weeks before the anniversary. . Rarely do florists worry that they can’t get the dozens of white flowers needed for an altar backdrop, or the Eskimo roses to arrange on a lover’s table.

Then came the pandemic.

Tracey Morris, a florist in Santa Barbara, California, said that after the 2020 shutdown, growers are not only planting less, but changing what they’re growing. Ella & Louie, she switched from growing event flowers to flowers sold at the grocery store because those flowers were more profitable at the time, she said. Farms have continued to plant event flowers, Ms Morris said, but it is a slower process as they have to wait until what is growing is harvested, or separate the flowers to plant new ones. new cotton.

Labor shortages are also affecting the industry. After demand fell in 2020, farms and wholesalers laid off staff, including harvesters and sales staff. Other workers have left their jobs as a ripple effect of the lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic.

At one of the local farms she works, Ms. Morris said, “an employee’s daughter had to start kindergarten online and her father stayed by her side. That means one less person to plant and harvest during the year. “

The process of bringing flowers from one place to another is also elucidated. Patrick Dahlson, chief executive officer of Mayesh Wholesale in Los Angeles, said his florist business, which includes 19 branches in 11 states and distribution facilities in cities including Miami and Portland, Ore, encountered weekly delays. There are fewer truck drivers to transport flowers, and with the decline in international flights, less room on planes for imports, Mr. Dahlson said. Such holding, he said, could lead to product loss, as flowers can sit in coolers at airports for days before being brought on to flights.

Colder-than-normal temperatures in 2021 coupled with a drier growing season in South America have reduced crop yields for flowers like roses and carnations, both popular for weddings. And the California drought continues to pose challenges for flower farms in the state with the largest number of businesses in the country.

“Our buyers and in-house shipping teams are constantly adjusting delivery schedules, resulting in delivery inefficiencies and additional costs,” said Mr. Dahlson. “Our job has never been harder.”

All of this has resulted in the inability to promise specific flowers for bouquets and other elements. “We do our best to get the product we designed, but the flexibility of the customer to substitute should be part of the process,” said Mr. Patel.

This also leads to higher prices for both domestic and imported flowers. Mr. Conti said roses that used to cost $1.50 a stem will now cost $3 a stem or more. According to Mr. Patel, white flowers, the most requested color for weddings, have also increased in price by 25 to 50 percent.

It seems reasonable to pass it on to customers – and the florists do for new customers. But when completing an order from 2019 for a wedding that had been rescheduled once or twice, many, including Mr Conti, Mr Patel and Ms Morris, kept their previously agreed rates.

Amidst it all, florists are finding creative ways to provide their clients with the wedding flowers of their dreams. The key is flexibility and creativity.

Kara Nash, owner of Design Kara Nash in Atlanta. “Even though it all sounds doom and gloom, there are flowers to be had. They may just be other varieties you expect. “

Ms. Nash has rethinked her flower-free arrangements. She would pluck the middle of a rose to turn it into a garden rose, or the middle of a carnation to make it look like a lisianthus, she says. Ms. Nash will also change the color of a flower using floral paint.

Before the pandemic, some florists like Ms. Nash had started looking for wild foliage to use in weddings. (Her employees now spend more time trimming trees and bushes in their own backyard or those of friends or neighbors — with their blessing, of course.)

Another alternative is to use silk flowers, which Mr. Patel said his company, like other floral design businesses, has long used as a filler for large-scale installations. and currently using many more.

Lauren Bercier founded her silk flower rental company, Something Borrowed Blooms, in Lafayette, La., six years ago. She said that by 2021, she has provided flowers for thousands of weddings, up from 12 a month when she opened the business. On average, silk flowers cost about 70% less than fresh flowers.

Mr. Conti said that instead of large flower arrangements, he used alternative flora as potted plants, which, unlike flowers, he could reuse for other events. He has also switched to candles, lining the aisles with pillar candles and hanging votive candles from the ceiling.

“Couples want their day to look good and reflect their style,” says Nash. “As long as the overall visual impact is outstanding, it doesn’t matter if we used roses or peonies to achieve that look.” The supply of flowers is short around the world. This is how it happened

Fry Electronics Team

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