The hibiscus season at GRAFF starts in March, and after having had some terrible weeks at the end of that month till Easter, demand got better and they are now running as normal again. "It looks like, in the end, it will be a 'normal' bad year", says Poul Graff, owner of this Danish hibiscus breeding and growing company, when reflecting on the impact of COVID-19.
When COVID-19 hit Europe in mid-March, demand plummeted, resulting in many growers throwing away their plants. Also for GRAFF, the end of March was a challenging situation. "Our main market for the hibiscus plants is Germany, and with several garden centers closing their doors, demand dropped drastically. In the three weeks that followed, till Easter, demand was very low and we had to throw away 50% of our plants. What's lost is lost and at that time it looked like it all would be a total disaster. Fortunately, after Easter, garden centers started to open their doors and demand picked up slowly. Now, we are back to normal volumes."
Nursery Graff Kristensen.
No support aid for horticultural businesses
In Denmark, the government supports many businesses, but there is no support aid package for the horticultural businesses, which disappoints not only Graff, but many in the industry. "Our industry is very small and I think it is difficult for our politicians to understand how it works. We work with a fresh living product and we need people every day - even if we need to dump the plants, we need as many people as when packing the plants, because our processes are not prepared for dumping huge amounts of plants."
A normal bad year
For every nursery, the impact of COVID-19 will be different, but fortunately for Graff, the situation looks manageable right now even without government support. They are now running as normal and in the end, as it looks so far, it seems that the results at the end of the year will be similar to a normal bad year. "Our season starts in March and when we have a cold spring, sales are usually bad as well. Now, if the demand continues till the end of the hibiscus season, which is September, it will be a normal bad year."
Some HibisQs varieties of Graff.
Graff has good hopes for the coming months. "As many people are at home now and probably not going on vacation this year, they are investing more in decorating their gardens or balconies, so I expect and I also notice now, that sales are positive and might increase even more. However, no one knows how the situation will develop. The only thing we can do is hope for the best."