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John Elstgeest, Flower Circus:
"Women's Day: "Russian market is growing up"
Moscow - assortment expands
One thing that immediately stands out to Elstgeest, is the market growing up. "The assortment at Moscow flower markets keeps expanding," Elstgeest says. "Tulips, roses and chrysanthemums are still best sellers, but while you used to see these varieties only with long stems, more summer flowers are notable now, as well as muscaris, hellebores and roses from Ecuador and Africa, with shorter stems."
The expanded assortment, Elstgeest says, is thanks to improved transport and more available products. "There are more summer flowers coming in from Africa as well now."
This year, tulips are doing well, and Elstgeest spotted many of Dutch origin. "Despite the fact that Dutch tulips are a bit shorter, lighter and less mature than Russian tulips, they do well. Demand for tulips is so high that there's always a shortage of Russian tulips, making import necessary. Russian growers are also expanding their acreage now."
Novosibirsk - Tulips and mimosa
In Novosibirsk, the product range isn't that broad yet. "Street trade is typical for this region, with large volumes of tulips and mimosa - a traditional Women's Day gift - being sold." And flowers don't have to travel as far. "Tulips are often grown locally, or they come from the Krasnodar region, while mimosa flowers come from the former southern Soviet states."
These two varieties are sold on the streets in an interesting fashion: "On roundabouts and squares, for instance, you might find 50 to 100 cars selling mimosa and tulips from the boot."
"And to stand out in a pretty uniform market, some sellers even dress up as Disney characters, like Mickey Mouse in the photo below."
Women's Day is an important day, celebrated in Russia in a grand fashion. "It's a national public holiday, and everyone congratulates each other." But... it's the man who gives the flowers. And not just to his wife or girlfriend, but to all women he knows. Colleagues, neighbours, teachers, everyone. "The difference in what you give, is the size: the less close the relationship, the smaller the bouquet." Sounds expensive, but Russians really save up to buy flowers for this day.
Sales are still going, so it's still too early to take stock, but up to and including yesterday there was moderate optimism, Elstgeest says. "Novosibirsk seems to have performed better this year, probably mostly because economic recovery is starting to set in there. In Moscow, economic recovery was seen last year already."
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