"Hopefully, British Columbia will consider floriculture in the province as an "essential" business, then when the province decides for a lockdown, like Ontario went into on Tuesday March 23, we can still continue business", says Canadian flower grower Leo Quik of Quik's Farm, based in Chilliwack (BC). Like for many growers in the industry, the demand for flowers is low. "Currently, for our company, our rescue is that we are supplying the supermarket chains."
In many countries non-essential businesses are ordered to close. Then, for the floriculture, the main question is - do we belong to the "essential" businesses? It does not only differ per country, but in many countries, it also differs per state or province. Also in Canada, it differs per province. "When a province gets in lockdown, only the "essential" businesses can continue", explains Quik. "BC is not in lockdown yet, but if it will, we hope that floriculture will be considered as essential, just like the province in Ontario did. This decision seem have a positive effect on the sector. But you never know as all provinces make their own decisions. We are watching the developments from provincial and federal government on an hourly basis to remain as informed as possible"
Picture: Leo Quik
Open market - "Dramatic"
So, so far, business is still continuing. According to Quik, the situation on the open market is dramatic. "Small mom and pop shops at the corner of the streets are closed and increasingly more florists are closing their doors. The market for events is nearly non-existent at the moment"
In the greenhouse. "Many colors for Easter production."
Supermarkets - "our rescue"
"Currently, our rescue is that we supply the supermarket chains and while sales are slow we still see some demand there", says Quik. "The beginning of last week was challenging because all accounts decreased the number of orders. We've had cancellations of 30-50 percent of the booked products - particularly the prebooks for the upcoming Easter holiday. The daily sales are still low, but fortunately, we are hearing some good reports that a certain percentage of consumers are still thinking of a flower when they are shopping. The volumes are very low at the moment, so nothing to celebrate, but if sales don't stop at all, we can still manage it.
Imported products - on hold
Usually, Quik's Farm imports flowers from other countries to incorporate them in their bouquets, but all shipments have been cancelled. There were some shipments in a transit out of South America and the USA, so they will use them in the bouquets, but from next week onward, they will have to focus their "Easter" production on local flowers only. "In our greenhouse, we grow a lot of chrysanthemums (spray and disbud), but also lilies, alstroemeria and ranunculus. We cooperate closely with one of the largest gerbera growers in the area and several other growers of seasonal flowers like viburnum, stocks, snapdragon, freesia and so on."
"With this mix of flowers, we will do our utmost best to make beautiful bouquets the coming weeks. If we can enable the local market to survive in this way, we and all others are happy."
Wait and see
The situation changes constantly and therefore, it is wait-and-see what will happen next.