Last year, and particularly the second part, was quite challenging for many Colombian growers. According to Jorge Ortega of Matina Flowers, a Colombian rose farm, the weather was the major bottleneck. For this year, however, he has higher hopes already. "We have had a better Valentine's Day, which is one of our most important holidays, and this will enable us to better overcome any unexpected setbacks the rest of the year." Now, preparations for the next holidays -Saint George in Spain (April 23) and Easter (April 1) in the rest of Europe and the USA - are in full swing at Matina Flowers.

Jorge Ortega at the FlowersExpo in Moscow, Russia.

Good Valentine's Day
Matina Flowers ships around 60 percent of their roses to the USA and the rest to Europe and Australia. In these countries, the rose is an important Valentine's Day gift and for Matina Flowers, this year has been better compared to the last two years. "When comparing to 2017, the prices increased by 5 percent and the volume by about 10 percent."

According to Ortega, this is due to three reasons. Firstly, celebrating Valentine's Day on a Wednesday seems to be good for the sales. "Customers are willing to take more risk regarding pre-ordering the products." Secondly. The weather resulted in a harvest that was exactly on time. "In the run-up to Valentine's Day, we have had some cold days. So, at first we were a bit scared if our production would be on time, but in the end it all turned out very positive." Finally, the logistical challenges in Ecuador led to last minute orders. "In Colombia, we were also about one or two days behind, but in Ecuador, they were about a week behind. For this reasons, some buyers started to ask for Colombian flowers. We shipped out our final products on the ninth of February, which is quite late."

Overcoming setbacks
All in all, Valentine's Day has been a very profitable holiday for Matina Flowers and gives Ortega good hopes for the rest of the year. "Last year, Valentine's day has not been as successful as last year and we therefore could not overcome the challenges that we encountered in the second semester that well." The major challenge in the second semester seemed to be the weather. "Due to the global warming of the earth, the weather is changing constantly. Usually, we plan our production according to the meteorological indicators, but we cannot fully rely on them anymore. In June, for example, it should have been sunny, but it was not. The changing weather conditions affect the production and gives us a low production volume when we need high and high volumes when we need low. All in all, it had a negative effect on the prices."

Coming holidays
After a very good Valentine's Day, preparations for the next holidays -Saint George in Spain (April 23) and Easter (April 1) in the rest of Europe and the USA - are in full swing at Matina Flowers. Both holidays are creating a fruitful combination. "For Saint George, there is a high demand for red roses and during Easter for colored roses." Afterwards, another important day will follow; Mother's Day. "It is a very important day in terms of volume. The prices do not go up that significantly as they do for Valentine's Day, but we get the chance to move a lot of colors."

What about International Women's Day?
But where is International Women's Day (March 8) in this story? It is a very important day in Russia and the surrounding countries and roses are one of the main gifts. "Several years ago, Russia has been a very important market to us, but since the crisis, the volumes and prices dropped. We therefore decided to focus more on other markets, like the US and Europe. And as Women's Day occurs after Valentine's Day quickly, we decided to focus on Valentine's Day this year. And it has been a good decision", says George Ortega of Matina Flowers. Around 10 percent of Matina's volume will be shipped to Russia for International Women's Day this year.

Situation Russia
After the crisis in 2015, the situation in Russia has been improving, but as it seems to go quite slowly, Matina Flowers decided to change markets. "We used to sell about 35-40 percent of our volume to Russia, but due to the crisis, the volumes and prices decreased drastically. We see the volumes recovering slowly, about 1.5 percent increase in volume a year, but volumes remain low. And personally, I do not think, they will reach their old levels again." However, even though Matina Flowers changed markets, they are still supplying the Russian market. Currently about 8 to 12 percent of their volume goes to this market.

For more information
Matina Flowers
Jorge Ortega