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Alexandra Farms pulls through after Hurricane Irma

"Our sales are higher than last year, but getting the product to the US was and still is a major challenge", says Jose Azout of Alexandra Farms. September and October are the most important months for this Colombian garden rose grower, but Hurricane Irma and the aftermath resulted in challenging weeks. Fortunately, Alexandra Farms managed to get most of their flowers at the destination on time, making the high end weddings in the US a day to remember.

Maria Paula Cordoba and Jose Azout at the Proflora 2017 in Bogota, Colombia.

Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma paid a punishing visit to Florida in September and affected the US floral industry. As the majority of the flowers originate from South America, many South American growers were affected too, including Alexandra Farms. The US is their main export market, followed by Russia and Europe. "Some days before and a couple of days after the hurricane made landfall in Florida, flights to Miami airport were cancelled. We had to throw away or send all flowers that were destined to this airport to another destination", says Azout. Fortunately, the demand for their flowers, the week after the hurricane, made up for their loss. "We were about 30 percent down in the week before and during the hurricane, but we were 38 percent up the week after." And it was not easy nor cheap to get the flowers to the destination. "Airlines had to deal with limited space in the aircraft, and they took advantage of it to raise their rates. Fortunately, we were able to ship our flowers again."

Growing niche

Garden roses are popular wedding flowers in the US, and during this time of year - September, October - demand is high; also in the high end of the market that Alexandra Farms supplies. And according to Azout, this small niche has grown significantly over the last few years. "Despite an increase of high end products, like Alaskan peonies, ranunculus, and hydrangeas, on the market, our sales increased by 25 percent."

White garden roses popular
This year Azout noticed a high (higher than normal) demand for white garden roses, more so than pink or peach. Azout does not have a clear explanation, but it might have to do with their new varieties. "Perhaps it is because we have new white varieties like Princess Miyuki (First Snow) and a David Austin white English Garden Rose called Purity, as well as a particularly romantic German Garden Rose called White Cloud."

For more information
Alexandra Farms
Jose Azout
Email: [email protected]

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